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Vinay Kumar, at the age of 12 joined the Communist Party’s Theatre Repertory Company, which travelled all over Kerala. At the age of 19 he joined the movement for the creation of a Women’s Theatre Company / Campus Theatre. He did his B.A in Theatre Arts, from the University of Calicut (1992). He was taught by Kathakkali guru Krishnan Namboodri. An important performance from this period was Woyzeck, in which Vinay played the eponymous role.In 1992 he joined Anghanam Theatre in Chavakkad, Kerala, for a nine-month period. During this time he started learning Kalaripayattu. In January 1993 he joined Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts Research while it was still in Mumbai.
He performed in Adishakti’s A Greater Dawn in that year and in October of that year he shifted with Adishakti to Pondicherry. He has been with Adishakti as an actor in residence since then. During Adishakti’s Pondicherry chapter Vinay Kumar joined Veenapani in her research into breath for performance, Koodiyattam, and Kalaripayattu, which she had been learning and researching since 1987.
In 1995 he acted in Veenapani’s Impressions of Bhima, which travelled all over the country and was also performed in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. In 1996 Vinay received the APPEX Fellowship, which took him to UCLA for a period of two months. During his stay at UCLA he directed a group of artists from the Asia Pacific region in a production of Antigone. In 1997 he went to Bali on the same Fellowship and then again to UCLA where he performed in The Myth of a Hero, a collaborative project between him, musician Paul Dresher, and Chinese Peking Opera director Chen Zhi Zhen. In 1997 Vinay assisted Veenapani in her research into Koodiyattam breath techniques of performance. Out of this emerged Veenapani’s Brhannala, another solo performance by Vinay. Brhannala travelled to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta, the UK, USA, Singapore, and Germany. In 1999 Vinay Kumar assisted Veenapani in her research into Koodiyattam music as a text. Out of this emerged Veenapani’s Ganapati. With Ganapati, Vinay again travelled nationally and internationally. From 2000 onwards Kumar assisted Veenapani in her endeavour to develop a physical craft for feeding the physical, vocal, and psychological expression of the actor based on traditional Indian knowledges. He gave expression to this craft in his performances and led workshops which disseminated this methodology of performance. In 2006 he along with Veenapani and Adishakti’s Nimmy Raphael went on a two-month residency to Villa Waldberta in Munich to create a theatre work on the city. In 2007 he performed as Hamlet in Veenapani’s The Hare and The Tortoise.
In 2008 Vinay Kumar directed Ionesco’s Rhinoceros with Adishakti. He created the sound-scape for the production and also designed the lights. In the same year Vinay Kumar, redesigned the lights of the Adishakti productions: Impressions of Bhima, Brhannala, Ganapati, and The Hare and the Tortoise. He trained the Adishakti actors in setting up lights, operating them and designing them. In August 2008, Vinay collaborated with Lucia King, a painter and filmmaker from London, who visited Adishakti for a month. This collaboration resulted in a film with Vinay Kumar performing in it. An excerpt from the film is available here.
In December 2008 he was awarded the “Amrish Puri Award”. Vinay is also engaged in studying the various readings/telling of the Ramayana out of which he created a script, The Tenth Head, which was directed by Veenapani Chawla. He is also a recipient of a “Senior Fellowship” from the Ministry of Culture in the field of Theatre for the year 2012-2013. Vinay was also featured in Sharada Ramanathan’s film Natyanubhava. Read more about the film here.
Vinay is currently working on making a script based on Veenapani’s paper and concept note for her dream play, ‘Sita’.