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Addicted to travel

My audiences are my teachers, says Israeli Gil Alon. Meet the actor and theatre director at an interface on June 15 at Raga Sudha Hall.


"I ALWAYS knew I will come to India. There is no logical or reasonable explanation for that belief," says Gil Alon. The Zen Buddhist teacher, actor, singer and theatre director from Israel has been in Chennai for the last couple of months working with the Tamil theatre group, Koothu-p-Pattarai and directing their new play.

Gil Alon became a professional actor at the age of 16. At 18, when every Israeli had to mandatorily work for three years in the army before continuing studies, he was inducted into the army theatre group. Alon went to theatre school after the army but still felt restless. He came to India only when he was 39 and his visit was preceded by three years of studying Buddhism in Israel.

Gil Alon says he knew he had come to India when he started having dreams about India. "It was surreal and I could recall every bit." He dreamt of walking on the streets of India, and standing in front of the Taj Mahal.

Four years ago, he landed in Mumbai. "It is not an easy sight as you arrive for the first time," recalls Gil. "It was Diwali and people were out on the streets early morning. I was stuck to my seat with my mouth and eyes wide open in wonderment and one line that kept repeating in my head was "I love this. I am in love!"

Knowing he was in India, the Israeli Ministry of Culture organised workshops and seminars in Mumbai. This gave Gil an opportunity to meet other theatre artistes. He conducted workshops at the drama schools of Rael Padamsee and Girish Desai and gave lectures at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA).

He travelled to Pune, Delhi and then to Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Nepal (graduated as a Zen Master in Japan) and went back to Israel. He became a teacher in Israel but soon discovered he was addicted... to travel!

He then came back to India, and was in Chennai last April. The Israeli Consulate told him about Koothu-p-Pattarai theatre group. He conducted one-day workshops for The Arangham Trust, Magic Lantern Theatre Group and a seven-day intensive workshop for Koothu-p-Pattarai that ended in an open house. Gil Alon is now working with Koothu-p-Pattarai on their new play "Prahlada Charitham" which will be premiered at the Alliance Francaise in July. "This play is based on N. Muthuswamy's script. The form has nothing to do with the Koothu tradition. It is contemporary and has a universal approach. We are hoping to present the play at NCPA, Mumbai, in the first week of August."

Gil Alon has quite a few CDs to his credit in his singing career and awards for acting. But philosophy is closest to his heart. How do we make philosophy work for us in daily life? "I will discuss these issues with the participants. My audiences are my teachers", says the affable Gil Alon whose smile is infectious.

Prakriti Foundation presents Gil Alon in "Zen Buddhism in daily life and the common thread with other religious philosophies" in an interactive lecture at the Raga Sudha Hall, 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 15.

V. R. DEVIKA

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