Professor Kriben Pillay and his nephew, the acclaimed stage, TV and film actor, Vaneshran Arumugam, reunited after seven years to embark on another performance project.
The reunion was made possible when Arumugam took up a contract position in Drama at UKZN in Pietermaritzburg, an ideal interim position as he’s just relocated with his family to the Midlands from Cape Town.
Pillay and Arumugam collaborated on an original piece in 2011 that premiered at an Arts and Consciousness conference in the UK. The work explored consciousness through the works and words of Shakespeare.
The current collaboration is partly autobiographical and is a dramatic treatment of Pillay’s explorations in the field of leadership; especially bringing a consciousness rather than a materialistic perspective into the disciplinary discourse.
Well known for using baffling illusions in his teaching, the new piece will incorporate illusion-making as a central theatrical device to tell its story.
‘The story itself is a surprise, but one that most academics will relate to in one way or the other,’ said Pillay.
About working with his uncle again, Arumugam said ‘it was like coming home.’
‘I earned my first professional salary as a performer in a play done by one of my uncle’s Honours student in the UDW Drama Department in 1986. I was 11 years old at the time and went on to tour as a stagehand with my uncle’s hit play Looking for Muruga in 1992. I was lucky very early in my career to land roles in long running TV sitcoms like S.O.S. and Suburban Bliss, but one of the highlights of my career has been playing Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, which was life-changing and set the foundation for collaborating with my uncle years later exploring Consciousness and Performance,’ said Arumugam.
His portrayal was featured in a BBC documentary about the role titled Imagine… Being Hamlet.
Pillay, a recipient of multiple national arts awards, said that the new play was planned for either later this year or early 2019 and is provisionally titled An Ill-disciplined Inquiry.