After we received scans of two theatre programmes, Bhagawati collected some snippets about the fabulous performances and troupe.
Anuragi from Delhi recently unearthed the complete theatre programmes for the two well-known productions of the Rajneesh Theatre Group at Anand Amrit’s (Maroo Dada) house in Ahmedabad and sent them to us.
Although I remember that we had a lot of media coverage whenever the Rajneesh Theatre Group performed in India, we no longer have access to those clippings we used to carefully preserve at the press office in Pune. But some digging in our archives and activating the old gray brain cells turned out fruitful.
To begin with, the creation of the Rajneesh Theatre Group was a public relations move. Subhuti, in his book, My Dance with a Madman writes, “Our theatre group had been born out of entertaining ourselves in Pune. We enjoyed coming together in the evening to read our favourite Shakespeare play, taking on the roles and characters of the mischievous fairies, the star-crossed lovers. There were professional English actors in our group, the quality was high, so I wrote to Bhagwan, suggesting we go public with the play, touring India as a PR exercise. After all, nothing was more likely to defuse the ‘sex guru’ image than Shakespeare.”
Vandana, one of the main actresses in the plays quipped that “it was to show India that we were not a bunch of hippie drop-outs.” The preparations and rehearsing “turned into work of marvellous intensity.” Having been an editor of Osho’s books for five years previous she said, “learning to use my voice and body again and rehearsing with a group of crazy actors was a type of torture.”
The performances of the Rajneesh Theatre Group won critical acclaim from the Indian press with its colourful production of Shakespeare’s delightful comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in July 1979, in Mumbai. They also performed in Pune, Surat and Ahmedabad. Encouraged by its continued success, the group presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night in New Delhi, in March 1980.
About the Delhi performance Subhuti wrote in his book that although invited, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi “made it clear she wasn’t coming to our performance. But she’d dropped in at the theatre during rehearsal to watch us. Then she invited us all to a meeting at her official residence in Safdarjang Road, New Delhi.”
While the theatre group was at its thriving pinnacle, it’s third production was to be Hamlet; Vandana was to play Ophelia to Anutosh’s Hamlet and Alima would play his mother. But suddenly the production was cancelled and the group disbanded.
Related article by Vandana on Osho News
Seven Years Working in the Buddhafield – by a Pune 1 Leftover
Related discourses by Osho
Acting is one of the most spiritual professions in the world
The world is a vast stage