Friday, March 7, 2014

"the arts shift souls" an Interview with Aditi Kapil

What was your first experience of theater that converted you to wanting to pursue it as a career?

I remember when I first fell in love with theatre. My mom and I went to a performance of Sam Shepard's 'Fool for Love' at this theatre in Stockholm that brought in English language productions. We got tickets through my high school, it was maybe the 3rd live play I'd ever seen, and the first non-musical. I think it was a brilliant production, I mean I wouldn't have had anything to compare it to. It blew my mind in a serious way though, nothing in my experience had ever prepared me for that live fighting, loving, naked, writhing in pain, old guy mooing in the corner, I'm not sure what's happening but we're all mesmerized... me, my mother, the entire audience. And something in the world had shifted by the end. Something I'd never known before, was possible in art. Anyway, that was the moment, but it took me a way long time to discover that there might be such a thing as a career in theatre, that's just not a natural thought for an immigrant kid growing up in Sweden.

If you can have a drink with any dramatist (living or dead) who would it be and why?

Tom Stoppard. Tom Stoppard, if you happen to read this, can I buy you a drink? I don't know, his virtuosity... the meticulousness of his craft... and you need that when you're going to break some realities, you need craft. I think I attribute the reality-breaking, accurately or inaccurately, to the East Bloc/Indian background, the idea that nothing has to be what everyone thinks it must, in fact it's our job to mix it up a bit, that sense that there's more to the world than you see at first viewing, I love that, I yearn for that. Also, I bet he'd be fun to have a drink with.

Why is theater important to you?

A healthy society needs to be in conversation with itself, a constant dialogue, a constant evolution of ideas, philosophy, humanity. That's the arts. Debate, free press, textbooks, etc., all of those things can inform and change minds. But the arts shift souls, connect us, weave us together. And for me theatre, having that conversation live in a room full of people having an common experience, gasping together, laughing together, feeding each other and the performance, is the most thrilling and uplifting variation. As a practitioner. I can palpably feel conversations starting, in our minds and hearts, and trickling out into our daily lives, and just a little bit the world shifts. Like that first time.

If you could have one of your plays produced in any country in the world, which play and which country would you choose, and why? 

Oh, wow. "Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale" in Stockholm, Sweden. In the US people very much see this play as a New York play because of the subway throughline, but in actuality for me it comes from growing up in Stockholm. My parents and my brother all worked for the Stockholm subway at some point, my dad was a driver, I'd hear him over the speaker, this one time he told me to pick up milk on the way home. I grew up on the blue line, took the train every day, the sliding doors, announcer v/os, passing lives, universe in "Agnes..." is Stockholm for me. I was also a home care worker in the summers, whenever I came home from college. In my blood, this is my Sweden play. To have it produced there would be incredible.

Aditi Brennan Kapil (Minneapolis, USA) is a playwright, actress, and director, of Bulgarian and Indian descent, raised in Sweden. Her play Love Person (Stavis Playwright Award), a four part love story in Sanskrit, ASL and English, has been produced to critical acclaim around the US. Her most recent play, Agnes Under The Big Top, a tall tale, was selected as a 2009 Distinguished New Play Development Project by the NEA New Play Development Program hosted by Arena Stage. Her latest work, the DISPLACED HINDU GODS Trilogy, consisting of the plays "Brahman/i, a one-hijra stand-up comedy show", "The Chronicles of Kalki", and "Shiv", premiered in repertory at Mixed Blood Theatre in October 2013, earning several end-of-year honors, including City Pages naming Aditi Artist of the Year for 2013. Current commissions include Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and South Coast Repertory Theatre. She is the Playwright-in-Residence at Mixed Blood Theatre, an Artistic Associate at Park Square Theatre, and a Core Writer at the Playwrights' Center.

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