'If Shakespeare directed his texts, he wouldn't be Shakespeare'

What happens when a prolific writer-director-actor sets her heart out to print the words that have created magic on stage and is repetitively told that “can’t do” and “plays don’t sell”?

Tom Alter

Much like her writing approach, Shivani Tibrewala took the alternative approach of being published by the Writers Workshop that has published an impressive host of writers — Nissim Ezekiel, Ruskin Bond, Vikram Seth and several others. It comes as no surprise then that Tibrewala despite belonging to a family of at least ten doctors chose to let the writer within her take centre stage.

Shivani Tibrewala, the playwright, as character Z in the play Whatever You Say

She narrates, “Like any other Indian kid, I was studying Physics, Chemistry, Calculus and other subjects. English used to be always on the side while theatre was a hobby. But, once, I was thrown out of my Science class as instead of taking notes, I was (merrily) writing.” Ultimately, Tibrewala wrote her first play in senior college, Waiting For Nothing. Since then, humble, perceptive and constantly reworking, Tibrewala made her writing debut on the Mumbai Theatre scene in 2002 with — Whatever you say — at the Prithvi Theatre Festival.

Shivani Tibrewala’s first book The Laboratory and Other Plays would be launched on March 22.

Tibrewala has penned documentaries, television serials, magazine articles and even scripted for the film, Dus Kahaaniyan. Her soon-to-be-launched, published collection contains Laboratory, Staying Alive and Whatever You Say. She hopes that as these plays hinge on “a search for something deeper”, someone else would explore, interpret and stage it with a challenging vision. She jokes, “ As a writer, it is all about putting it out there. If Shakespeare tried to direct his own texts, he wouldn’t be Shakespeare. It’s been so much more as others have directed his plays.” Quizzing about her inclination to direct someone else’s script, she quips, “So far, if I screw up a text, at least it’s all mine.”

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