Jyothirmayi (a.k.a Jyothi) graduated with a Masters in Theatre Arts from the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kerala, India, after obtaining her Bachelors in Multimedia from Mahatma. Her training and performance experience reflects her wide range of skills, and she has acted in productions such as Iruvattam Manavatty, the first Malayalam adaptation of a Chinese opera in the Thiruvananthapuram International Theatre Festival, translated and directed by Ramesh Varma, a renowned theatre director in India. Jyothirmayi has also spent 7 years studying classical Indian Carnatic Music.
Q: Did you always plan to be an actress?
I’ve never imagined myself being an actress, but I’d always been amazed to see actors perform. Like them, I saw myself wanting to be in front of people, to say something and to be heard. Because I could never articulate well, and acting helped me overcome that.
Q: So when was the moment you decided to be an actress? Was there something that inspired you?
It was when I did my Masters that I had my first encounter with theatre. I had a friend whom I called my teacher. He asked me, ‘what kind of theatre do you believe in?’, and it was a simple but important question that set me on this amazing journey I’m still on now. I want to act, and I also want to direct by exploring the acting process, rather than focusing on creating a magnificent stage for the audience.
Back then, I didn’t have any proper training in acting because we only did small projects of our own in a small community. That’s when I first heard about the school, ITI from its two alumni, Sreejith Remanan and Sankar Venkateswaran. They told me that they studied in Singapore, in ITI, and that it was kind of extraordinary. So when I found out more about the programme, I knew that I wanted to be in it. That was the moment I decided to focus fully on acting.
Q: So what was it that prompted you to leave your comfort zone and travel all the way to Singapore?
For me, what was my comfort zone and what were the challenges I was going to face were not important. What I wanted was to learn. So in order to learn, I needed to explore. I wanted to be in the process of learning. In fact, before I decided to come, I never travelled alone. So it was when I went to my audition for ITI (from the Southern part of India to the North) that I felt it had become a challenge necessary for me to face. There was no fear, no anxiety, and no confusion. It was just my desire to focus and to learn more. That’s it.
Q: What is the most rewarding experience that you had so far in your theatrical life?
For me, it’s being with people full of passion, full of love, and full of happiness, and to share and receive something in return. Being with the people who really want to be truthful to themselves in their lives, that is the most memorable experience. Everyday in ITI, I gain plenty of energy from everyone. ITI has become my family. Love, truth, and happiness… everything is there.
Q: What do you think is the most important lesson?
Be open. If you aren’t, you cannot taste, you cannot feed, you cannot sense. Just be open. You don’t need to do anything more, just be open and ready to receive. That’s what I have learnt. It’s not about learning from something but it’s about learning from everything. So, be open.
Q: What do you look forward to most about graduation?
This production of Pericles is very interesting because we are extremely focused in this play. It is really exciting and I’m looking forward to it because this is going to be a full-fledged production. And having the chance to work with these amazing directors and of course having to face the real public… that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Q: Do you have any advice for other actors and actresses?
There is no need to judge anything, even yourself. You can say, ok this is the way I see things but at the same time, convince yourself that there is no need to judge. You just have to live every moment, focus on whatever you do. It will become an even more beautiful thing than it is.
Whatever you do, do it with love, and be yourself in whatever you do.