Roysten Abel


Born in Kerala in the South of India, the director Roysten Abel has over the last ten years developed a very special style of music theatre. Initially focusing on a career in commerce, at the insistence of his parents, it didn't look like Abel would end up in the theatre; but after dropping out of business colleges twice, he enrolled in drama school. Having graduated from the National School of Drama in 1994, he went on to apprentice at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London that same year. In 1995, he returned to his home country, where he founded the Indian Shakespeare Company, initially producing mainly straight classical theatre. The turning point came with his first original work, Othello, a play in black and white (1999), which marked his international breakthrough and has since toured around the world, including at Amsterdam's Royal Tropical Institute in 2008. After his first international success, Abel went on to create performances featuring out of work street performers, such as magicians, acrobats, puppeteers and musicians, an approach which didn't go unnoticed, especially in Italy, where he was invited to conceive and direct a play on Fellini in Rimini, the home town of the great Italian director. Recently, Abel has been giving more and more prevalence to the role of music in his theatre productions, as in the use of snake charmers playing their pungi in A Hundred Charmers; working with Manganiyar musicians from the North of India in The Manganiyar Seduction (featured at the Holland Festival in 2009); and in The Kitchen, for which he collaborates with musicians from his home region of Kerala. Abel is currently involved in setting up an International Centre for Contemporary Traditional Performances in Jaisalmer, which should be ready by 2015.