Rajesh Nirmal


Report for the SPIELART working scholarship

In the examination of his origins and his current life as a writer and theatre director, the idea for a solo theatre piece emerges, which Rajesh Nirmal works on during the SPIELART scholarship.


I witness the worlds I travel through and the dreams of people. But when I return home, I see a large section of people who do not have the courage to dream. It feels like something within them has been shaken. What is it that has shook them?

My parents were migrant laborers from a village in Uttar Pradesh, who used to launder and iron clothes in different parts of Delhi. Something was shaken inside them, too. Searching for answers, I find: Caste. The one that I belong to. One that is considered small and untouchable in the society that I live in. As if to say – to dream is the privilege of the upper castes.

A second-generation migrant, far more educated than the rest of my peers and family, how did my mind fare in this journey? I think even after reading several books, I have not been able to save myself from this mindset of oppression. I created a new world for myself on the basis of my education and was able to mask the world of my caste.

I was forever afraid that this world I so carefully built of words, songs and theatre would, once knowing who I really am, suddenly look at me with pity, and I would lose my sense of respect and equality. In some way, I too had handed over my dreams to the decades old system of oppression.

The world of theatre and performance was instrumental in showing me a different way of living. I have seen people find their beings through their artistic work. I have watched from the sidelines, enabling other voices to flourish. I have written many stories that foreground those tucked away by society. I want to build a bridge between these two worlds of mine and see for myself – what does my entire world look like? In order to start building this bridge, I will create a solo theatre piece, in which I invite audiences to be witness to this process. Using stories and anecdotes from my life, those from my village all the way to the city, and join them with the history of my people, my caste and the land that I come from.

The theatre piece will be shown as part of this year's SPIELART Theatre Festival in Munich.

About Rajesh Nirmal

Rajesh Nirmal is a writer and theatre director based out of New Delhi, India. His theatrical work is a contemplation on socio-political structures and realities of urban and rural contexts. He received the National Playwright Award from Korean Culture Centre for his play MANY KINGS AND ONE QUEEN which is enmeshed in traditions of Korean and Indian folklore. He also received the Sanjoy Ghosh Media Award 2020 for his journalistic work, which focuses on the lives of women inhabiting rural areas in Uttar Pradesh, India.

SPIELART working scholarship 2022

Due to the large number and diversity of the extraordinary applications for the residency program in cooperation with Artist in Residence Munich: Villa Waldberta, City of Munich, we decided to award further working scholarships in the context of SPIELART. These remote scholarships were accompanied and mentored by us. One of these fellows, along with the artists Angelinah Maponya and Pankaj Tiwari, is the artist Rajesh Nirmal.