Dramatically Good

  • Anita Jaswal
  • India
  • Nov 02, 2012



Gouri Nilakantan has spent most of her life in the theatre business. She has never walked through a stage door without the thrill of belonging. On the stage she feels that she is surrounded by like-minded people speaking a common language, and having a common goal. This group is not opposed to the world, but is a world-within-the-world—small, contained, cohesive, mutually responsible. The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life,” she enthuses.

What has she found in there? “Filial piety, humour, language, a responsibility to learn and to instruct, a sense of timelessness and history. This vertical and horizontal community creates incredible solidarity. Once on the stage, everything is taken away, or is about to be taken away: sleep, health, family, comfort—everything, except a sense of shared purpose.

Armed with a degree from Maimi University, Ohio in Direction, Feminism in Theatre and Children’s Theatre, and a PhD in Theatre from JNU, Delhi, Gouri Nilakantan and her husband, Neeraj Mehta, initiated PACT – the Platform for Action in Creative Theater. PACT is currently involved in Theatrics, Arts and Cultural Management, and also works as a facilitating platform; using theatre as a tool, it also engages in Training Programmes. 

With their unique outreach programmes designed for children and adults alike, PACT reaches out to more than 15,000 participants every year, identifying and developing their special skills. Purple Umbrella Theatre Festival has been conceived by PACT for the purpose of promoting and strengthening excellence, access, and education in the theatrical arts, and to create a vibrant performing art culture amongst children and youth. It’s the largest children theatre activity of its kind, and spreads over a month across various venues in Delhi and NCR

“My professional goal is to make theatre more popular, make people more passionate towards this art form. I am proud to be a part of an institution that  helps young children explore their talents, and consider this forgotten field as a career option. Our vision is to become the most recognisable brand in the theatre world, by involving itself in every process of theatre – including education and training,” avows Gouri.

The theatre workshops for Educational Institutions and Corporates are specifically designed to help each participant focus and develop his/her communication skills and improve critical thinking ability; as well as improve moral and spiritual values, sensitivity to the feelings of others, and peer acceptance.

And it doesn’t matter if you are a school dropout or a PhD; if you are smart and full of crazy and creative ideas… you are eligible to join this Community!

Theatre remains the only thing Gouri understands. It is in the community of the theatre that she has her being. In spite of jealousies and fears, emotional conflicts and human tensions; the penalty of success and the dread of failure; and feverish gaiety -- this is the only life she knows. It is the life she loves. 

Gouri has been felicitated with the Best Student award in the Department of Theatre, and her husband has been nominated for the Young Creative Entrepreneur by the British Council.

At present the entire family, including 5-year-old son Rudra, is involved with the Short+Sweet Theatre, the biggest festival of ten minute theatre in the world, to be held at the Epicentre on the 7th, 8th and 9th December. Short + Sweet believes that the ten minute theatre works can stimulate, move and entertain audiences as effectively as longer theatre forms.

Gouri elucidates, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another  the sense of what it is to be a human being. I gave my life to the Theatre, because in it I’m building something for myself. What I build, I am. I think there is no world without theatre. I just love being in the theatre with all those crazy, creative people!”


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