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Alkazi Theatre Archives

Notes from the Archive

October 9, 2020

Meghdoot Theatre Delhi

Meghdoot Theatre, view from the stage.
Set of Hori.
Image Courtesy: Alkazi Theatre Archives

“In presenting a play such as Hori (Premchand’s Godan), the students erect a village. They shape an environment and see how environment shapes homes, shapes minds: how the huts huddle under the protective shoulder of a hill, the sheltering shade of trees; how the well becomes the focal centre of village life; how class and caste barriers affect topography; how the poor herd together in wretched closeness and the rich keep their distance; how the very dust of a landscape coats the language of a people.” -E.Alkazi, ‘Theatre Education’

In 1967, along with 45 students from the National School of Drama and the technical staff from the workshop, E.Alkazi designed an open air theatre in the lawns of Rabindra Bhavan. “It was a pleasant and a conducive place for the sharing of the experience, emanating from the actors, who literally performed under the large Peepal tree!” This outdoor theatre, which was initially created for the performance of Hori, consisted of a mud stage built around this tree. The peepal tree in itself, as Alkazi states “was an incredible character on that scene” and he felt he could “use this tree and make it a focal point for a setting, because it was a setting in itself.” As theatre critic Sunita Paul recalls, “The impoverished tree had flourished as did the theatre. Performance after performance we witnessed the green horn actors become accomplished as the tree turned greener.”

With two greenrooms at the back, an auditorium was built opposite the tree and eventually the ‘entire auditorium came and formed its own existence within this vicinity’. Based on the principles of self-sufficiency and ecological sustenance, this space came to be known as the Meghdoot Theatre and still exists at Mandi House today.