Indian actress Kriti Pant in Milwaukee’s “Success”
John Kishline, Deborah Clifton, Edward Morgan and Sam Kishline toured India last August and September with John’s play, Success. Indian actress Kriti Pant, auditioned via Skype, met them there and joined their traveling cast. Now Pant is on her way to Milwaukee, for more Success.
The same crew, under their Theatre MXT banner, will open the play in Milwaukee, at Next Act Theatre, Thursday, March 15. They would have opened March 9, but visa and Homeland Security red tape delayed Ms Pant’s arrival.
Mary O’Hara Stacy exchanged emails with Kriti Pant. Get to know our Indian guest.
Kriti Pant: Truly, Providence brought me to acting…I never clutched shampoo bottle-statuettes in front of the mirror as a child, nor had I even read a play before I was 17. But I always liked being seen, and I had a tendency to assimilate fabricated stories into my personal reality, making them a part of my history and daily life. Well, I still do really… So, when in college my friend asked me to do him a ‘mega-favour’ and step in for his sick lead actress for a collegiate production of The Importance of Being Earnest, I obliged. It was fun, it was hard work, it was satisfying. I was intrepid, I was appallingly bad, and I was in love — with the rigour of rehearsal, the exploration of intent and movement and storytelling, the camaraderie amongst people who are creating something together, with the wooden stage, and the lights beaming down on me, and the cautious applause of an audience who doesn’t quite know if they liked what they saw, and that curious little tickle in your stomach you sometimes get when your synapses are firing like there’s no tomorrow. All previous aspirations of cutting edge journalism quickly fizzled, and I suppose the decision to attempt a career as an actor was made with my first professional production in 2005 – Patrick Marber’s Closer, in which I played Alice.
Mary O’Hara Stacy: You toured North America in 2008 with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Which cities did you visit then?
Kriti Pant: I was blessed with the opportunity to tour North America in 2008 with Tim Supple’s luminous, multicultural production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We played at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut; Columbus, Ohio, home of our co-producers, CAPA; the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago, Illinois; and we spent three weeks at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada.
Mary O’Hara Stacy: What was it like touring India with an American theater company?
Kriti Pant: Touring India with Theatre MXT was delightful, to put it succinctly! It was obvious that we would get along, if Skype sessions were anything to go by. But I still remember my elation when I met them in the flesh for the first time, because they really are a family and they embraced me as one of their own. It’s rare to find people so gracious and generous of spirit and willing to extend themselves so soon, and they brought with them a different range and quality of experience. As we worked and ate and breathed together, they also made me view my country from a different perspective and consequently, my notion of ‘home’ grew larger and richer too. The best adventures are those in which people learn how to navigate waters together.
Mary O’Hara Stacy: How does theater in India differ from theater in the US?
Kriti Pant:As far as I can tell, theater in India and theater in America differ from one another in everything, and in nothing at all. I can’t presume to have
exhaustive knowledge of the theater scene here or there because that blood keeps flowing and oftentimes, the pulse has changed before you even had a finger on it. Collaborations such as Success are humble attempts at placing stents in the churning heart of drama to facilitate that commingling. Naturally, our superstructures are grossly distinct – we don’t have unions, that’s for sure! Our vocabularies differ, as do our modes of practice. But a good story is a good story, and the desire to share and communicate transcends geographical matrices.
Mary O’Hara Stacy: Do you have your own definition of “success” ~ and where would you like to be in 20 years?
Kriti Pant: I think I’m still developing my own definition of success. It’s a vast, convoluted concept that grows a new finger and loses an old tail every morning. It’s the integrity, forbearance and aspirations of my ancestors and the curiosity, naivety and trust of the children I hope to have. So if in 20 years I’m “successful,” I’ll be learning new things everyday, traveling across the world, hanging my family’s laundry out to dry in the sunshine, thanking God for His grace, but surprised at how 20 years ago, my expectations and definitions could have been so off the mark.
Show and Ticket Information: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, March 16 -18; pay-what-you-can 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 19; and Wednesdays through Sundays through April 1; at Next Act Theatre, 255 S. Water St. Tickets Are $23 for general admission, $14 for students and seniors. Call the Next Act box office, 414 278-0765.