Q&A: Moodliar sees parallels between ‘An Octoroon’, current events


Reporter’s Note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theater makers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They work alongside CTC staff and visiting professionals, and serve as the core of the theater company for all CTC shows. To help readers get to know them, interviews with CTC conservatory members will run regularly in the weekend edition of the Daily throughout the summer.

Who: Keshav Moodliar, 25, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.

He is playing three roles in An Octoroon: assistant, Pete and Paul. To prepare for the roles, he’s been watching blackface minstrel videos on YouTube. Moodliar said he sees upsetting parallels in the news to how people of color are still treated in the United States today.

“(People of color) have to always be trying to fight that system which has been made from the beginning to oppress them,” Moodliar said. “It is bizarre to me that this play is relevant today.”

Where he’s from: Moodliar hails from New Delhi, India, and will begin his fourth and final year at The Juilliard School this fall. He loves mountain climbing, and the summer before his first year at Julliard, he almost reached the summit of Mamostong Kangri. Sadly, his sherpa suggested they turn back due to deadly weather.

“We were at the shoulder of the mountain, and we could see the summit. All we had to do was get past one glacier,” Moodliar. “I think someone else tried to make that same climb later that day, and I don’t think all of them came back.”

First theatrical memories: In the second grade, Moodliar was cast as bird in a cage in his school play, but came down with chicken pox four days before opening night, prompting the school to recast. Years later, Moodliar stepped up to raise funds and direct his senior class production of Beauty and the Beast. While watching the show from the wings, he said he realized that theater was what he wanted to do with his life.

“I will never forget…watching Beauty and the Beast have their first dance,” Moodliar said. “I saw them having an experience on stage, and I felt everyone else backstage feeling that too, and I felt really proud of everything in that one moment.”

Favorite color: Since moving from the Himalayas to New York City, Moodliar’s preference has changed from blue to forest green.

“Being in the city, you don’t get to see a lot of that color,” Moodliar said. “Even Central Park is white for most of the year.”

Favorite foods: When it comes to food, Moodliar said he is an easy man to please.

“My last meal, I sincerely do believe, will be a huge bowl of oatmeal and some peanut butter,” he said.

What he’s watching: Moodliar is cheering for Colombia to win the World Cup.

What he’s listening to: Ben Howard’s new album Noonday Dream along with Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Everything Is Love.

What’s next: After An Octoroon, Moodliar will go back to India to spend time with his family. In August, he will return to the states for a production of The Cherry Orchard at Lake Lucille and then go on to do Red Speedo at Juilliard.

Tags : Chautauqua Theater CompanyKeshav Moodliar

The author Kevin C. Vestal

Kevin Vestal is from Westerville, Ohio, and is a rising senior at Miami University in Ohio, studying journalism and professional writing with a minor in theater. Last summer, he interned for The Florence Newspaper in Italy, and he is excited to cover Chautauqua Theater Company and the Family Entertainment Series for the Daily. An avid thespian, Kevin recently performed on stage in Tartuffe and also has an irrational fear of wrists.