A few words with Siddhartha Bose

Blog / Tom Chivers

Siddhartha Bose performs Kalagora at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Hackney/Islington as part of Branching Out Festival on Tuesday 8 November. Tickets £6/5. Full details and booking. _ Sid, you’ve recently returned from a month-long run of your spoken word theatre piece Kalagora at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. How was your first Edinburgh? It was a […]

Siddhartha Bose performs Kalagora at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Hackney/Islington as part of Branching Out Festival on Tuesday 8 November. Tickets £6/5. Full details and booking.

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Sid, you’ve recently returned from a month-long run of your spoken word theatre piece Kalagora at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. How was your first Edinburgh?

It was a memorable experience, with highs and lows crammed into a short space of time. We got some great reviews, including five stars from Broadway Baby, and having Hollywood actor Julian Sands supporting the show was special. Performing an intense physical piece night after night for close to a month to a variety of audiences was special. I didn’t realise that it’s a piece that takes me on an emotional roller-coaster as well and learning that was vital as an actor and performer.

Who is Kalagora and why does he move from Mumbai to New York to London?

I recently read a thought provoking article first published in the New York Times by journalist and author Anand Giridharadas called The Struggle of the Global Placeless. It talks about ‘placelessness’ as a defining characteristic of our age, from someone like Obama to the paperless Mexican labourer crossing into America illegally. I guess Kalagora is my personal theatrical archetype of the global placeless. He moves from Bombay to New York to London to find himself, his city, his tribe, only to realise that what marks him out everywhere is his foreignness. It’s a complex, fragmented, but productive space for someone like him to inhabit since the potential to reinvent yourself is infinite. Of course, the forces of terror and control are always trying to make you think otherwise. And to set the record straight, Kalagora is not me, but a fictional creation!

Sum up Kalagora in three words.

Hybrid mega-urban mythmaking.

What are you up to now, and what are your future plans?

I’ve just started work as a Leverhulme Fellow in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London. Over the next two years, I’m hoping to create more work that explores the connections between poetry, theatre, and the visual. And I need to write a book on the grotesque and the city. I’m also developing a long-term theatre project with WhyNotTheatre, Toronto, which examines migration and diaspora. I’m teaching as well. What else? Cricket in Victoria Park!

Have you seen / read / heard anything recently that you’d like to recommend?

I was blown away by a film from Kolkata called Gandu (Asshole) at the BFI. I saw it three times over the course of three days. It’s shot on a Canon 7D VSLR, is an arty and pornographic rap-punk musical with some serious drug-taking, and has been wowing people in Berlin and Seattle and New York. I couldn’t get it out of my head for a week, and it made me question myself. I love work that takes serious risks, is relentlessly inventive, and fucks with your head, and this was one such film. It creates a universe of its own.

[vimeo:http://vimeo.com/19767728]

Also, Akram Khan’s Desh at Sadler’s Wells was beautiful. And closer to home, there’s a seriously crazy band called Nova – former Hackney Wickers. Check them out.

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