The Vedic Theater and Beyond

June 5, 2007 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

BY BARBARA KOWAL

Jun 4, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (SUN) — An interview with Bhakta Wallace Dorian, the Artistic Director of The Vedic Theatre Company.

Barbara Kowal: (BK) You seem to be riding the crest of a wave.
Wallace Dorian: (WD) Yeah. Let’s hope it doesn’t come crashing down on me. Ha!
BK: I don’t think it will.
WD: One never knows in this crazy material world.
BK: That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. So much has happened in your life since I last interviewed you about your novella, “Desert Rain” last year.
WD: I know. It’s truly phenomenal. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
BK: When I called you, you told me you’ve gotten back into acting and you have four feature films coming out in 2008 and that also you’re are a Hare Krishna.
WD: Yes, but how that came about is a strange twist of karma as they say. I wanted to be an actor since I was 14 years old. At 16 I joined a teen theatre company and got the lead role in a stage play and thought to myself, “Gee, a person might be able to make a living out of this acting thing.” Of course, everyone around me told me I would never make it and how cutthroat show business was but I always felt deep down I would make it sooner or later. Looks like it was a lot later, much to my chagrin.
BK: How do you mean?
WD: Sometimes we get sidetracked in life. I’ve always been a late bloomer. To make a long story short I went to New York City in the 60’s to pursue acting but then became very disgruntled with the cattle calls and making the rounds so I drove a taxi on and off for six years. The years seemed to roll by pretty quickly and I decided to concentrate on writing and working in theatre because it was the most accessible. I didn’t have too much luck with that. One day I saw the Hare Krishna’s in Washington Square Park, it was 1966 I think and I had just turned twenty years old. I thought they were weird but never gave them a second thought and went about with my life. Later of course I turned to things spiritual and leaned toward the teachings of the east and the vast treasure of philosophy from India etc. and suddenly I became more interested in spirituality than in the pursuit of my acting career. Then ironically, in December 1979 I ended up at the Hare Krishna temple in Los Angeles and the rest is history.
BK: So you dropped out of acting?
WD: Yeah, for almost 30 years.
BK: That’s a long time.
WD: Yes, it is. But in a way I felt I had discovered something much more important in my life than just acting.
BK: What was that?
WD: Krishna consciousness. After 28 years associated with the Krishna movement I still consider myself an aspiring devotee. But I feel this is what the world needs now. With that in mind I formed The Vedic Theatre Company with the intent of bringing the Vedas to the people in an emotionally kinetic and professional manner primarily outside of the so-called “temple environment.”
BK: How does one go from being a Hare Krishna to ending up doing four feature film roles in one year after having been out of the profession for so long?
WD: That’s a good question. Probably fear of poverty which I’m no stranger to. I don’t know. My kids are grown and I just turned 61 last January so most people my age are either dead or gave up their acting pursuits. Also, the Internet has been a great boon in getting work in the film profession.
BK: So that leaves you with an open road.
WD: Yeah, if I don’t crash.
BK: So do you think it’s Krishna that is making all this happen?
WD: Yes. Sometimes a supposed blessing can be a curse and vice-versa. One has to be alert. The way I look at it now is that if Krishna is giving me an opportunity there must be a reason.
BK: What’s the reason?
WD: To glorify Him. But to do that within the realm of theatre and film in a big way costs big money and big connections. It’s a constant struggle. Whether that will transpire from the release of these films that are coming out I have absolutely no idea. But just in case it does I’m slowly working on an original screenplay called, “Bhagavatam” which I hope to push in the coming years. It will cost $50 million US dollars but it will be a knock-out. I would use name movie stars in cameo roles as well as Krishna devotees and lots of CGI effects. I think Anthony Hopkins would make a great King Dhrtarashtra in the “Mahabharata” for example. I have to think big. Time is running out for me.
BK: I wish you luck. What about The Vedic Theatre Company? Have you had any luck with that?
WD: No. Nothing. Zero. It’s very hard to raise money to do plays in a professional manner due to high theatre rental costs and then the plays only run a short time locally and disappear. How many people will see it? But with film and video, it can reach many millions of people through TV and worldwide theatrical distribution. The idea is to get people to talk about God, Krishna.
BK: Are you familiar with the popular “The Secret?” The Laws of Attraction?
WD: Yes, I have heard all the hoopla surrounding this phenomena which I understand is making million of dollars. For the people who created it, there’s no secret. Making money. Material gain. However, while there are beneficial things contained within the concept of visualization and positive thinking, there is really nothing new. It’s just dressed differently in the guise of some new-age phantasmagoria. I think if Srila Prabhupada were here today, he founded the International Society For Krishna Consciousness in 1965, and was asked the same question, he would probably say that the only secret is to find the solution to birth, death, diseases and old age. Now that’s a big secret but one that the devotees have been trying to bring to the world for the past 40 years. After all, we’re all going to die, that is, leave this material body. Lord Krishna has explained this to Arjuna in the famous Bhagavad-gita. How do you explain to people who are going to die, which is all of us, the concept of “The Secret” when the real root of the problem is to prepare them for going back home, back to Godhead? The real secret is trying to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Rama and leave this miserable world. It’s the only game in town right now. However, it is easier said than done for most of us.
BK: Whew! That’s a lot to swallow.
WD: Well, we shouldn’t choke on it. Just take little morsels of Vedic knowledge every day and sooner or later you will see the Absolute Truth.
BK: Which is?
WD: God in the final analysis is a Person. A transcendental Person and His name is Krishna. He is the ultimate creator of all that be.
BK: Okay. You also have a play opening up in October.
WD: Yes, this is another surprise after writing for 30 years. It’s called “The Women of Mahbharata” which I adapted from the ancient epic as a monodrama for six women. I’m very excited about it because the play is being produced by a company in New York City. I’m not involved as the director. This is all new to me. I hope it goes well.
BK: I’m sure it will. It was nice seeing you again and on that note I wish you all success in your film endeavors and spiritual life.
WD: Thank you.
This interview was conducted in Los Angeles May 18th 2007. Those wishing to contact Bhakta Wallace may do so at: vedictheatre@aol.com

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