PUDUCHERRY: Veenapani Chawla, acclaimed theatre personality and founder of the Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts and Research near Auroville, passed away on Sunday, following a sudden heart attack. She was 67.
Her funeral is expected to be conducted on Monday at Karuvadikuppam in Puducherry.
Winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puruskar for her contribution to Indian theatre as a director, Chawla was considered a pioneer of experimental theatre in India.
She established Adishakti in 1981 and was also its Managing Trustee and Artistic Director. Having directed most of Adishakti’s performances and scripted half of them, her work has toured India and abroad.
Through Adishakti, Chawla has been engaged in research towards creating a performance methodology based on old knowledge, according to Adishakti’s website.
Speaking to The media earlier this year about Adishakti’s famed Master classes, Chawla had said, “The master classes are an opportunity for the artists from Adishakti to explore fields which are opening up. We ideally want to be a dynamic, vibrant and cultural centre in this part of the world. The master classes for Adishakti is a way to expand its knowledge base and share it with people from everywhere.”
Earlier this year, theatre critic Shanta Gokhale had brought out ‘The Theatre of Veenapani Chawla: Theory, Practice, and Performance’, which traces Chawla’s journey into the performing arts. In his review of the book for The Hindu, playwright Girish Karnad wrote, “There is no one like Veenapani Chawla in Indian theatre. There is no other group like her Adishakti — certainly there hasn’t been any since what we call ‘Modern Indian Theatre’ began”.