- This event is over. However, time travel possible through our Audio & Video!
English language theatre in Bombay began around the horseshoe shaped dining table of a wealthy Khoja matriarch Kulsumbai Padamsee in 1943! It was here that her dynamic eldest son Sultan along with his siblings Roshan and Alyque established the Theatre Group. And within a few years the three sons-in-law Ebrahim Alkazi , Hamid Sayani and Deryck Jefferies had built a unique theatre movement drawing talent from all over India and overseas..
Ebrahim Alkazi took English theatre from its beginnings in Bombay to audiences across the country, and even outside. He directed and acted in more than a fifty plays, ranging from Oedipus Rex, Murder in the Cathedral and Macbeth in the 1950s, to Ashadh Ka Ek Din, Andha Yug and Tughlaq in the ’60s and ’70s. The performances were designed for the proscenium stage and for open air venues with extraordinary stage designs.
As director of the fabled National School of Drama in the critical years of 1962 to 1977, he launched some of the finest actors of our times, including Om Shivpuri, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Rohini Hattangadi, Manohar Singh and Uttara Baokar to name but a few.
At the core of his stage productions were home and family where scripts were discussed, scenes hashed out and costumes designed. Indeed, the chief costume designer and seamstress for all his productions was his wife, Roshen Alkazi.
Feisal Alkazi’s recent book on his family, Enter Stage Right: The Alkazi/Padamsee Family Memoir (published by Speaking Tiger), allows us an intimate window into the many ways in which Ebrahim Alkazi and the family engaged with the world – through theatre, art and photography and by valuing the documentation and preservation of the arts.
Discussing Alkazi’s lasting legacy in a hybrid session at the BIC are Feisal Alkazi, who will be present in person, Quasar Thakore-Padamsee and Raell Padamsee who will tune in from afar, all in conversation with Surendranath S, himself a product of the National School of Drama.
- Hero image- Alkazi Theatre Archives, Seema Biswas as Mumtaz in Din ke Andhere Mein, 1992
- Thumbnail image- Alkazi Theatre Archives, Scene from Oedipus Rex with Ebrahim Alkazi as Oedipus, 1954
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Educationist, theatre director and activist, Feisal Alkazi lives and works in New Delhi. Over the past forty years he has carved out his own niche with his group, Ruchika. He has directed over 200 plays with adults in Hindi, English and Urdu. Most recently, two plays written by him have been produced, Noor and A Quiet Desire. In addition he had directed over 100 productions for schools all over India, and in the field of disability, he has directed 30 documentary films and produced several plays.
Currently Feisal is actively involved in the field of heritage education, initiating projects in Delhi, Jaipur, Srinagar and Hyderabad each of which have culminated in a book. Feisal has written another 20 books as well, including ‘Rang Biranga Rangmanch’ which has sold 50,000 copies.
Quasar is a theatre-holic and lover of all things theatrical. Since 1999, he has directed and produced over 25 plays with theatre and Arts Management company QTP; including Every Brilliant Thing, Mother Courage and her Children, A Peasant of El Salvador, Project S.t.r.i.p., So Many Socks, and many others about contemporary social concerns. Internationally he has worked on Tim Supple’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the aerial drama Mind Walking. He is also the founder of youth theatre movement Thespo, which is now in it’s 23rd year.
At present he is also serving on the committee of Tata Literature Live! The Annual Mumbai International Litfest, and until recently used to write a regular column for The Asian Age. He also works as a lighting designer, stage manager, conducts workshops and often collaborates with international theatre makers to make shows for Indian audiences; all as part of the passionate crusade for the survival of Theatre in the public consciousness.
Raëll Padamsee is a vibrant, versatile, dynamic well- known Indian theatre personality. The daughter of advertising legend Alyque Padamsee and theatre & film veteran Pearl Padamsee. She is the CEO and Managing Director of ACE Productions and Numero Uno Productions. Managing Trustee of the CREATE Foundation and President of the Theatre Group, Mumbai.
At the tender age of 15 she acted in her 1st play, at 16 she directed her 1st play and at 19 she produced her 1st play! By the time she was 21 she had started her very own production company – ACE Productions.
Today, ACE Productions, along with Numero Uno are some of the leading names in English Theatre Production, Exclusive Entertainment Shows, Speech and Drama courses, Corporate Grooming and more.
ACE is also closely associated with the renowned Lee Strasberg Institute for theatre and film, in New York.
With over 30 years of experience in the theatre and entertainment space and over 100 productions to her credit, Raëll is an artist, director, producer, educator, philanthropist, and entrepreneur.
Raëll has produced and directed several internationally acclaimed plays of various genres. Classics like Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman. Iconic Musicals such as The Sound of Music, Grease, My Fair Lady, Godspell and Jesus Christ Super Star. English plays written for India like Mahatma – Come find the Gandhi in You and Rediscover the Epic. Socially relevant plays like Aruna’s Story, Bitter Chocolate, I Will Not Cry and many more.
She produced the blockbuster, psychological thriller Broken Images, written by the late Girish Karnad, directed by her father, the late Alyque Padamsee & starring the legendary Shabana Azmi, that is still enjoying full houses world-wide.
Her Academy for Creative Expression (ACE) has trained over 100,000 children and designed courses to unleash their creativity, boost their confidence and improve their English and public speaking abilities. They focus on holistic development. To overcome the pandemic restrictions, ACE has designed a brand – new customized curriculum and executed over 5000 hours of online Speech & Drama Workshops for over 50,000 children across the world.
As well as get them to perform on the professional stage with plays like Beauty & the Beast, Alladin and The Wizard of Oz.
Raëll founded the CREATE Foundation in loving memory of her mother, which meets the need for soft skill education and self-empowerment amongst children and young adults in the low income and underprivileged sectors of Society, as also mentally, physically challenged children & young adults.
Raëll also works closely with several NGO’s. They are, ADAPT (Formerly known as the Spastic Society of India), Jyotirmay – a skills training and therapeutic centre for people living with cerebral palsy, Pehchaan, The Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, The Society for the Education of the Challenged, Seva Sadan – a sanctuary for marginalised girls, Salaam Bombay Foundation, VConnect Foundation, Salaam Baalak Trust, Aseema, The Vatsalya Foundation, Habitat for Humanity India – a non-profit organisation that builds homes and provides housing-related services to low-income families across India and Aspire for Her – a social start-up powered by extraordinary women leaders as mentors and role models.
Surendranath S is a graduate of the National School of Drama, India, a writer of short stories, novels, plays and a director. Surendranath (Suri to all) is among the successful and prolific playwrights and directors of modern Indian theatre and a well-known name in Kannada theatre for over three decades. He has adapted many classics of world theatre from Ibsen to Shakespeare, Brecht, Frisch, Chekov, setting them in contemporary Karnataka to great success. He is the winner of Ibsen Scholarship ’19.