Keeping in line with the promise to perpetuate the legacy of Professor J. Vasanthan, an artist, theatre exponent and a teacher, the Art Foundation set up in his memory honoured Dr. Anuradha Kapur, former director of National School of Drama, with the first J. Vasanthan Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the field of theatre. The award, given in association with the Madurai Media and Film Studies Academy and Nigazh Theatre Centre, carries a purse of Rs.50,000.
A renowned name in the field of theatre, Anuradha Kapur is one of the founder-members of ‘Vivadi’, a working group of painters, musicians, writers and theatre practitioners. Much like J. Vasanthan, Anruadha Kapur is also a dedicated teacher who reaches out to students. “Teaching is much like a theatre activity ensuring communication in a group. Theatre is like a magic mirror which facilitates a rare dialogue between the actor and the audience,” she said.
She felt it was a special privilege to belong to that group of people who are teacher artists and artist teachers. She spoke on ‘The place of theatre in the changing Indian context’. Quoting European artist Joseph Beuys who said “To be a teacher is my greatest work of art,” Anuradha Kapur declared that her greatest works of art are her students. Hailing the complex Indian culture, ideologies, rituals and theatre, she said, “Be it classical or folk, traditional or popular, all kinds of theatre happen in this country.
Art and life are mixed in theatre to make it exceptionally special. “Any communication that happens between the performer and the audience is theatre. Take for instance a parade, a ritual and the salutation programme at the Wagah Border, I see them as theatrical activity. It gives an opportunity to constantly analyse ourselves, social circumstances and also believe that it is possible to transform. Being a social medium, theatre has got great responsibility in following ethics,” she said.
She felt extremely happy to receive the award for it was instituted by people “who are in many ways part of your community”. In a noble gesture, Anuradha Kapur donated the cash prize to the J Vasanthan Art Foundation to help budding artistes in keeping the theatre alive.
Presenting the award G. Srinivasan, president, GOVEL Trust, Aravind Eye Hospital, remembered his school days with JV in Kovilpatti.
In an attempt to provide a platform for emerging artists and raise awareness and appreciation of art and culture, J. Vasanthan Artist in Residence Fellowship was announced. Artist P. Gunaseakran received the fellowship for 2016-17 for his work in identifying and documenting the rare artworks of JV.
“J.Vasanthan Art foundation is only an earnest attempt to re-articulate the memories of past for the benefit of the future. The legacies left behind by people like Vasanthan, act as sources of inspiration and energy for such re-articulation of ‘liberal’ in the present context. In this exercise of re-articulation, the name ‘Vasanthan’ becomes a rich metaphor that celebrates individuality, personal autonomy, creative engagement of life around, reaching out to people, inclusiveness, tolerance and humanism. His legacy lives,” said T. Chinnaraj Joseph Jaikumar, Managing Trustee of the foundation.