May 31, 2020
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Barry John

The TAG director defends his artistic credo, and denies he has sold out

Barry John
Why is Theatre Action Group not seen and heard much of anymore?
TAG veterans like Shah Rukh Khan, Divya Seth left for Bombay films. New talent takes time to find, groom.

Is Barry John a has-been in terms of commercial Delhi theatre?
I will confess to a period of inactivity, personal depression for the last two years.

Why can't you reconcile art with commerce?
I don't do sex comedies. That's the theatre others stage to attract the money, the audience. Theatre for me has a more serious purpose. It's much more than a commercial proposition.

Do you feel sidelined by proteges like Lillette Dubey and Sita Raina?
I'm happy they have their feet in both worlds. They are doing the kind of theatre they want to do. Marriage to influential husbands has helped them market theatre.

Even you had enviable resource, influential people in your theatre group...
I came to India as a Sixties person, to get away from the rat race. Pity it's caught up with us here.

Was Blood Brothers a commercial success?
Well, we broke even despite the fact that we had no sponsor.

You talk of selling out, but even you sold out to television. Why do you anchor a shoddy programme like Theatre Quiz? For the money?
A theatre quiz seemed to be a sound idea. What can I do? I just anchor it. I don't produce it. I don't direct it. Beyond that, it's a job that I do. That's all.

So, if you can do commercial theatre how can you be toffee-nosed, disparaging about commercial theatre?
I'm feeling under attack. Each one of your questions indicates a pre-conceived notion, a hostile mindset.

No, I respect your work. Just wonder why it's not seen.
Because we can't get sponsors, actors.

What's on the anvil?
A production of Indian Ink by Tom Stoppard which we're casting for right now.

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