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Ulka Mayur is an Indian theatre artist, storyteller, writer, actor, director and folklorist. She has worked across various genres and formats ranging from physical theatre to musical theatre. She is renowned for her solo performance ‘Cast Off All Shame’- a play that she has written intertwining themes of feminism and bhakti movement. Helming the production company Story Circus, she has created well-researched and engaging content for children and adults. She is known for researching lesser known folktales and presenting them in innovative ways, augmented with other art forms like music, installations and animation. She has presented her shows in formal theatre spaces as well as intimate spaces like museums, art galleries, libraries and cultural clubs.
Early life and education
Born to Kirtibhai and Kala Joshi in Kapadvanj, Gujarat, Ulka did her schooling from Shreyas Foundation, Ahmedabad and St. Xavier’s school, Gandhinagar. During her years in Shreyas foundation, she had her first tryst with performing arts, folk traditions and stories, the penchant for which stayed with her all along.
She acquired M.A. and M.Phil. degrees in English literature from Gujarat university and later obtained Ph.D. degree from University of Mumbai under the tutelage of Dr. Nilufer Bharucha.
Ulka is a trained Kathak dancer and has been trained in both Lucknow and Jaipur gharana of Kathak. After a Visharad degree, Ulka pursued further training under noted Kathak exponents, Padamshri-Padambhusan Kumudini Lakhia and Pandita Uma Dogra. Her initiation into acting on stage began during college days when she did a role in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party directed by Ralph Yarrow.
She worked as an academician for over a decade first in C.U. Shah college, Ahmedabad and later in Nagindas Khandwala College, Mumbai, which she eventually gave up to explore her artistic side.
Ulka married songwriter and filmmaker Mayur Puri and moved to Mumbai in 2001. She has two sons, Aravir and Abhisar.
With her husband Mayur Puri, she co-founded a multi-art production company Story Circus, for which she is also the artistic director.
After writing-directing her first play Tik Tak Tales, Ulka went on to write and direct more plays like I, Cloud, a play set in dystopian future and Ballad of Desires, a piece investigating themes of desire. Her plays and story acts have been showcased at Kala Ghoda Arts festival, National Children’s theatre festival, NCPA Centrestage festival, Gujarat literature festival and Chandigarh literature festival. She has collaborated with many talented artists for her plays like Shashaa Tirupati, Priya Saraiya and Dipna Patel. In the documentary theatre piece ‘Loitering’(5)(directed by Satchit Puranik), which had medley of real people from different fields playing themselves, Ulka brought on stage a quirky chapter of her life.
As a screenwriter, she has worked on two successful television shows Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai and Jiji Maa. Ulka also produced a short film ‘Firdaws’ (2017) which was selected in over 35 international Film Festivals and has won 17 awards.
She has facilitated workshops in institutions and corporates using the model of stories and theatre. She designed and performed special storytelling acts at St. Xavier’s college for Harvard in Asia program (2019) and for an international conference of CoHaB IDC project at University of Mumbai (2014).
|Plays||Premiering Year||Genre||Special notes|
|Tik Tak Tales||2016||Musical||Writer, director, performer|
|Cast Off All Shame||2017||One woman show||Writer, director, performer|
|I, Cloud||2017||Futuristic Thriller Comedy||Writer, director, performer|
|Go…Go…Gomuli||2018||Play for children, Comedy||Writer, director, performer|
|Ballad of Desires||2020||Physical /Dance theatre||Writer, director, performer|
- Discovery of India with Folktales: 2016 to present
- Around the world with Folktales: 2017 to present
- Stick Around, I May Need Someone to Blame (Anecdotal stand-up comedy act): 2019 to present
- Maitreyi, Malala and Other Stories I tell Myself: 2019
- Explore India with Folktales (Digital series): 2020
- Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai: Writer (2017)
- Jiji Maa: Show-runner, Writer (2017-2018)
- Firdaws (short film-2017): Producer
- Doicha padar (2020): Director
- Ei Watan (narrative poetry video -2020): Director
In the media
- Mollan, Cherylann (2018-08-14). "Stories at the museum". The Asian Age. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- Service, Tribune News. "Agent of change". Tribuneindia News Service. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- & (2017-06-16). "Punctuated with poetry". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "What if God was a woman? A new play in Mumbai has the answers". mid-day. 2017-06-18. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "Watch Janabai on stage who deals with issues of women's body rights". mid-day. 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "A durbar for theatre". mid-day. 2019-07-24. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "A lot of my friends are in TV, though they love theatre a lot more: Ulka Mayur - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- Phukan, Vikram (2018-10-12). "Between clouds and comedy". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "Dwelling on desire". mid-day. 2020-02-19. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "Love, rape and censorship take the stage at the NCPA". Hindustan Times. 2017-11-24. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "PressReader.com - Your favorite newspapers and magazines". www.pressreader.com. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "A tale of sibling love". mid-day. 2019-08-21. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "Tales that travel the world". mid-day. 2019-11-05. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- "Once upon a time". mid-day. 2020-03-20. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
- Cast off all Shame by Ulka Mayur - Paytm Insider
- Ulka Mayur on linkedin
- Our Team – Story Circus
- A lot of my friends are in TV, though they love theatre a lot more: Ulka Mayur
- Ulka Mayur on imdb
- Punctuated with poetry - The Hindu
- Stories at the museum - The Asian Age