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Alkazi Theatre Archives


Art Heritage II, Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi

October 15 - November 11, 2019

Theatre, like any other performance practice, has a short life span, that of its duree. What remains of a performance are the techniques, mechanics, concepts and histories that inform the practice of theatre as well as the traces of the final performance itself – photographs, videos, notes and critical writing. But these only gesture to the memory of the event, even as it’s performative moment remains inaccessible.Theatre in a sense is a constantly vanishing activity that stands on the precipice of the archive. What then is performance’s relationship with the archive? How can we conceive of the relationship between performance and archives such that the acts of research – recording, storing, indexing, and redistributing may be interpreted as its own mode of performance, its own singular event. Can the archive itself be considered as a venue, a stage, or a performance site?

RE:STAGING MEDEA is an annotated video work comprising archival material: photographs of E. Alkazi’s 1961 production of Euripides Medea and drawings by MF Husain of the same production, as well as Nalini Malani’s theatre collaboration with performer Alkananda Samarth (1993) of Heiner Muller’s rewriting of Medea, Despoiled Shore Medea Material Landscape with Argonauts.

RE: STAGING MEDEA is contextualized by three texts, ‘The Theatre of The Absurd’ by MF Husain (written in the context of his exhibition The Theatre of The Absurd, date?,at Art Heritage, New Delhi), an audio recording by Alaknanda Samarth of her notes on performing Heiner Muller’s Medea(from the Seagull Theatre Quarterly, Issue 6, August 1995) and E. Alkazi’s essay on ‘Imitation’, c.1950s. Each of these texts discuss concepts, strategies, philosophies, processes on the question of representation in the theatre and art – What are the implications of blurring art and life? How are memory and facts presented and represented? Are fiction and nonfiction adequate conceptual ideas when considering truth? What are the problems and possibilities of representing and simulating both the real and the truth on stage if we situate theatre as a “seeing place” where the truth about history, justice, and personal experience are encountered?