Achievers' Index

Marcus Murch

Late Marcus MurchWhat 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!

Early 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.
But 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".

After 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 Japan.
From 1960 to 1963, Marcus worked with the Royal Festival Ballet as one of the assistants to the lighting director. 

However, 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 Arts. 

On 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. 

Once 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. 

In 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.

In 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 well. 

Marcus 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. 

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