In conversation with Yuki Ellias


Yuki Ellias is an actor, theatre- director and corporate coach. She trained at the Jacques Lecoq School of Theatre in Paris and is a trained pedagogue from the London International School of Performing Arts. As an actress, she has performed in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Italy and India. Her theatre company Dur Se Brothers has produced the multi-award winning play Elephant in the Room, Hello Farmaaish, Yatagarasu and Basti Mein Masti. Her one-woman show Elephant in the Room has traveled to the Edinburg Fringe Festival, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Perth and Hong Kong. She endeavours to make theatre for diverse spaces and diverse audiences, creating original scripts and is now working on her first film screenplay. She recently co-curated a seminar series on “Copyrights and Ethics- Best Practices for Professional Theatre-artists.” And talks on “The Economics of Creating Theatre” As a corporate coach she delivers communication training programs for various organisations across the country. She has been invited to give a Ted Talk with her father on the ‘Fine Art of Losing Money – why invest in creative pursuits.’ DSM writer Pranita Pandurangi caight up with her to chat about her production, Elephant in the Room and her take on dramaturgy. 


Did you use a dramaturg for your production, Elephant in the Room? 

No. There was a first writer who did a lot of research and then, a second writer and we tried to be our own dramaturgs.


Going forth, will you be using a dramaturg for any of your productions? 

I do a lot of research for my work, since I haven’t attended the dramaturgy workshop but I am open to it. To be honest, I don’t really know what it constitutes and I do take feedback – I prefer different people to come into my work and get different sides to it. I curate that group of people who understand the kind of work I like to make and what I want to talk about. Another group who understands what I want to do aesthetically and so on. I choose people who are from the same world and understanding and whose inputs I would value for aesthetics, political context, music, etc. I don’t think one person has all those capacities and neither do I. I believe in getting a group of people in and that’s my team who has expertise on various aspects. 

I do believe that I need to have the right heads for the right aspects. I could work with a dramaturg for part of the process. 


Do you feel a need for dramaturgy in Indian theatre today?  

I think it can be useful – it’s one more skill to have. Perhaps for some theatremakers, they would want that one dramaturg. You can have a dramaturg and the problems can still arise but I think it’s pretty open in its meaning. I’m sure there are groups that might want to work like that. And there are directors who would like to work with a group of people. So I say it’s all open and it’s to be tried. So far I have not needed to have a single person as a dramaturg. I feel quite good with the team of people that I had and all my outside eyes and feedback that I had. But do I need it in the future? It could be. It still is a collaboration and you have to feel good in it. 

I don’t feel one person can be with me on the journey and I still prefer different people for different legs of the journey but they do interact and we often very quickly set the tone. Having a dramaturg might take me on another tangent which I don’t want to go to on. Constant feedback can make it harder to finish a script so I guess it has to be someone whom you can totally trust. 


If having a dramaturg wasn’t a resource constraint then would you consider it?

Frankly, I’m not looking for that one person. I’m looking for my team. I put together a team who can ask me the right questions.