Taufeeq Ahmed Sheikh: ”˜Theatre has been very dear to me since my childhood’

By Manju Mittal

The Multitalented Taufeeq Ahmed Sheikh is an actor, director and writer, hails from Mumbai now living in Sydney. He recently played strong unique character in the musical drama ”˜The Drowsy Chaperone’, a loving send-up of American musical comedy from the 1920’s. Taufeeq is also a Radio correspondent & presenter on 89.3 Kehte Sunte 2GLF FM in Sydney. ”˜The Drowsy Chaperone’ is Taufeeq’s debut in musical theatre, him having worked with several Australian and South Asian theatre groups like Lane Cove and North Shore Theatre Company, South Asian theatre companies such as Sai Creative Arts Network SCREAN Australia, Adakar Theatre Group, Heart & Soul Productions, Nautanki Theatre company amongst others.  

I caught up with the actor, director, writer Toufeeq after the play, conversation centred not just about his play but detoured to other aspects of his life’s unexpected journey. 

MM: How do you feel being part of ”˜The Drowsy Chaperone’ musical play?

Taufeeq in the play ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

TAS: I feel great. I consider myself fortunate playing as Superintendent in the play. It was rewarding when something unexpected happened. And also I was fortunate to work with the best cast and crew.

MM: How did this role come to you and could you please tell us about your character in the play?

TAS: One morning I just woke up and saw advertisement of musical play audition happening in the town and I liked the sound of it. So I was ready to think positively about this audition. I arrived there on time and immediately felt welcomed and like, I was in good hands, felt so much relaxed especially individual attention that made me feel so comfortable. 

Director of the play Kelly was so warm and supportive but also very honest about realities of the audition process. I loved the script, an incredibly funny and terrific, great fun, I was immediately interested in it. I got selected in audition and it was the most amazing thing to ever happen to me. I play small yet unique role as superintendent in the play. 

MM: Can you share your experience working with the director Kelly Horrigan?

TAS: Working with Kelly Horrigan has been a great process of discovery and you are exploring all the time.  She is very friendly and dear to me. In the play we have brilliant performances by the entire cast. Overall it was a great experience working with her and the entire team of ”˜The Drowsy Chaperone’. 

MM: What was the biggest challenge essaying the role of Superintendent and how did you prepare for the role?

TAS: ”˜The Drowsy Chaperone’ musical theatre drama allowed me to play small role as Superintendent I really believe in and gave me the opportunity to show what I was capable of.  My biggest challenge in essaying the role was learning the dance moves. However, our choreographer worked with us very patiently and made it possible. I wasn’t sure how I would pull off such an elaborate performance in such a short period of time. 

MM: When did you get into acting in theatre?

TAS: Well, right from my childhood I was interested in acting. My first TV appearance was at the age of nine. I debuted in theatres with Shakespeare’s ”˜The Taming of the Shrew’ playing Baptista Minola in my teens, theatre was very dear to me and since then I have acted in and directed several Productions in English, Hindi and Urdu language. I wanted to be an actor and that’s how I got involved into theatres. 

MM: How would you describe yourself for our readers who may not be aware of your work?

TAS: As I said from my childhood I have been intensely involved in theatres. I am also a writer.  I have directed two plays ”˜Metoo’ and ”˜The Eye of the Storm’ for the Short Sweet Sydney Festival 2019 both graced with a podium finish in India. I also consider myself very lucky in the career I have had so far; I would say Sydney art theatre is a very supportive and accepting environment. 

MM: Tell us what you enjoy most acting or writing?

Taufeeq ( Laughs ): honestly I enjoy doing both and both close to my heart, but yes writing has always been my passion and acting is my first love. Writing, which I feel is a way of expressing yourself through words and theatre, it’s about positive and meaningful interactions between performers and audiences and also theatre is very open to experiments of ideas. There is so much to learn and I am enjoying myself, I consider myself both a writer and an artist. 

MM: What projects do you have in hands now?

TAS: This year I am thrilled to be part of a few great projects. Currently, I am working with Lane Cove theatre company ten short plays in September.  I am also involved in International theatre play called ”˜The Siddhus of Upper Juhu’ in November 22, 2019 in Sydney and Adakar’s new production ”˜Where did I Leave My Purdah’ on 30th November 2019.  I would encourage everyone to come & watch all theatre plays in Sydney.  And also I would like to thank all my supporter who have watched my theatre dramas that I have been in. 

It has been pleasure interviewing the young artist Taufeeq.  I am looking forward to watch his Play on weekend. We at TIDU sincerely wish Taufeeq best of luck to all his future endeavours.  

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