Speaking her mind fearlessly

Kindred spirit

Those who didn’t take time out of their busy schedules to catch Lillete Dubey’s latest production, Brief candle by  Bangalore playwright Mahesh Dattani, missed an evening of good theatre.

Metrolife caught up with Lillete, in the City, to talk about her newest production and her close association with Mahesh over two decades.

“Mahesh and I go back so far that we are like an old married couple, easy and familiar. In fact, he doesn’t write  anymore unless commissioned and the last play of his that we did together was around seven years ago called 30 days in September. I felt it was time to come out with another Dattani  work,” says Lillete.

“This is our fourth production together as a team and I like the challenge of exploring new subjects, moving away from the tried and tested formulas that have an easy beginning middle and end but are not edgy enough either for the cast or the audience,” she adds.

 In keeping with their passion for exploring issues that are beyond the trite and the banal, Brief Candle, produced by Dubey’s Primetime Theatre Company, addresses not only the joy of living life to the fullest but the pain of dealing with cancer and mortality, an issue especially close to Dubey’s heart since her own mother was a breast cancer survivor.

“Mahesh and I have had a remarkably successful relationship. We started with Dance Like a Man in 1995 and it was probably one of the most successful English language theatre productions from an Indian author ever. The last play we worked on together was 30 Days in September, about child sexual abuse. It was an amazing experience.
I played a middle class mom in total denial of her daughter’s abuse at the hands of her uncle and Neha (Lillete’s daughter) played my traumatised daughter.

Although it was a touchy subject, I’m proud to say we were able to treat it with enough sensitivity and reach out to audiences across the country and even around the world. I do a minimum of 40 shows when I undertake a production and my past plays are still very much alive.

I do not like to repeat myself even though a particular formula may have worked well,” she adds.

Brief Candle begins with a dying patient called Vikas on a hospital bed. The action then moves into a rehearsal for a play that he himself has written to be performed by the other patients in the hospital, including the ward boy and the doctor.

It is a play within a play, with a bedroom farce, plenty of laughs and tender moments skillfully woven into its script as well,” she explains. “It is not a dark or depressing play but rather one that celebrates everything that makes life worth living. It is poignant, moving, funny and very relevant,” she says and signs off.

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