Amitabh Bachchan is to Indian Cinema, Marcus
Murch was to the world of theatre, certainly
the Delhi theatre. Theatre in Delhi has
always posed a special challenge, for more
than, say in Calcutta or Bombay where theatre
has always been encouraged so nurturing an
interest in good theatre was more than a
challenge, it was a call to arms!
evidence of this talent that was to make its
mark in the Delhi theatre world and elsewhere
can be gleaned from reports in the school
magazine where he won prizes in elocution.
his irrepressible nature is delightfully
illustrated in an article on 'The Poetasters
of Isapahan'. "Marcus Murch", it
read, "with an unaccustomed beard played
Ibn Hussain, the wealthy jeweller. More
rehearsal was needed with that beard. He
stroked it, preened it and finally held it
firm on his chin, thereby losing many of his
lines in the bearded woolliness".
leaving Sherwood in 1953, Marcus joined the
well-known Shakespearana International
Theatre Company under the directorship of
Geoffrey Kendal. There are many who remember
vividly this touring company, which presented
plays in schools and colleges. The accent was
on Shakespeare but occasionally there were
forays into other fields. Shaw, Wilde,
Sheridan, Goldsmith; their repertoire vast
and varied. Their performances were not
limited to India either. South and South-East
Asia formed the theatre of their operations -
Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), Burma, Borneo, the
Philippines, Vietnam, Macau and even
1960 to 1963, Marcus worked with the Royal
Festival Ballet as one of the assistants to
the lighting director.
he kept his passion for dramatics alive when
he performed for the Hastings Repertory
Company, the Nottingham Players and, in
Northern Ireland, with the Belfast
his return to India in 1963, he joined the
Religious Drama Group as co-director. The
accent was on Christian themes, although it
was not rigidly so. Towards the end of 1964,
with six other theatre-lovers, he started a
semi-professional theatre group called 'Yatrik'.
The group is still alive.
again he joined Shakespearana, which toured
the Far East, Nigeria and Afghanistan from
1965 to 1969. He assumed the post of stage
director of 'Yatrik' as well as the Indian
National Theatre on his return from his
Far-Eastern tour. This new responsibility was
not only limited to actual performance, but
covers every aspect of production, lighting,
music and stage-setting.
1973, he free-lanced, directing plays in
schools and colleges and theatre groups in
Delhi. 'Stage-door', a university theatre
group, was started in 1974, a company that
has grown from small beginnings to a
recognized name in the theatre world thanks
to Marcus' friend and disciple, Aamir Raza
Hussain, on whose capable shoulders Marcus'
mantle has fallen.
later years as a director, Marcus insisted on
the cast doubling up on the production side
as well and this discipline he learnt from
his early theatre days with the Kendals, for
not only was he expected to play any role the
director demanded of him, but he also worked
as lighting director and stage manager as
featured in T.V. films and advertisements and
his voice was used for radio features. He
even ventured into the field of journalism
with his magazine 'A.D. 2000'. But he is not
remembered for this - it is for the theatre
and his contribution to developing a taste
for good theatre among the Delhi-wallahs that
he is remembered. Even today the name of
Marcus Murch equals good theatre.