Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spotlight On...Dipika Guha

Name: Dipika Guha

Hometown: Calcutta/London/New Haven

Education: MFA Playwriting, The Yale School of Drama

Favorite Credits: The Betrothed, Wellfleet Harbour Actor’s Theatre

Why theater?: Because it feels ancient to me. And completely new at the same time. And it comes with actors who I love so much for their ample courage and the ferocity of will to stand in for us all.

Tell us about The Architecture of Becoming: The Architecture of Becoming is a kaleidoscopic telling of the untold histories of a collection of outsiders. It’s a history of otherness seen against the backdrop of different historic moments in New York City. It’s also a composite being. A crystallization of a collaboration between five playwrights, three directors and five producers. It is also still being written!

What inspired you to write The Architecture of Becoming?: I am a member of the Lab at the Women’s Project Theatre which is a little hothouse of a community of female artists supported by a fellowship at the Women’s Project. Every year members of the Lab work together to create a piece that the Women’s Project produces. This time around, each of the playwrights crafted a single ‘chapter’ inside the greater vision that is Architecture of Becoming. My chapter, directed by brilliant Lauren Keating, is called The Art of Gaman. My work often focuses on how our everyday lives exist against the larger forces of History (with a capital H). In my research, I looked at the period of Japanese internment in the United States after World War II, a period that is often overlooked and underplayed by history books. At the same time, I learnt that my partner’s grandmother had escaped internment in California to marry a man she hardly knew who lived in New York. She was a highly educated, talented woman who was, I think, happy in her life and her marriage. But that nugget led to a different kind of story-a story of a woman whose brilliant, internal imaginative life has no space in a country where she is, by virtue of her ethnicity, a criminal. Her story exists parenthetically between the world war two and Hiroshima. Even though our subjective experiences as human beings will never find a way into history books, my impulse is to always create a space for it and the way it feels for ordinary people to actually live in time-even in a time of great political and social upheaval. I also think a lot about the women of my grandmother’s generation. They weren’t asked what they wanted, no one cared to listen to their yearnings and as a result their deepest and most creative truths went unheard. Untapped creativity often turns into resentment and hostility, which I believe is the story of a lot of women of her generation. This play is, in a way, a homage to those women who were never heard.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I’m inspired by playwrights who take risks in form and content and who trust in the integrity of an artistic vision that calls for new thinking, new theatrical styles and courageous collaborators.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Oh so many people! I’m a big fan of Anne Bogart and Citi Company and I’d love to work with her. I’d love Les Waters’ work. I want Meryl Streep to be in one of my plays!

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I tend to recommend that people stay home and rest. Theatre people are chronically under-slept.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: My director Lauren Keating and I agreed this would be easier if we did it for one another. I think Ellen Page would play Lauren in a movie called “Direct Address: I Told the Truth And the People Stayed”. Look at her interview for mine!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Oof. Candy crush. It’s giddyingly addictive!

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: It’s empty as I have a new computer and I’m a luddite! But on Pandora right now are soundtracks by Thomas Newman. I’m a fan.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be_____?: a swimmer?… a beach bum?…a poet? Maybe all three….

What’s up next?: My new play Blown Youth, a riff on Hamlet produced by New Georges and Barnard College and directed by the gifted Alice Reagan runs March 6th-8th at Barnard: