Lives of Clay

The Clay Connection

Dance, Theatre

Vidya Thirunarayan combines her expertise in Bharata Natyam dance with her skill as a potter in a unique theatrical event.

If clay could talk, what would it say? Stories of women from ancient myth and modern life are brought vividly to life through thrilling classical Indian dance, original music and half a ton of clay. 

Internationally renowned as a Bharata Natyam dancer, Vidya Thirunarayan is also a prominent ceramicist, and in 2015 began combining these skills in performance. Through dancing with clay and throwing pots on stage she found a new way to tell stories rich with drama and emotion.  

Prajapati, Sanskrit for potter, represents both the supreme creator and the lowest of the low; a duality that has inspired this intriguing new work.  

Directed by Tim Supple, choreographed by Debbie Fionn Barr, designed by Julie Belinda Landau, with original text by Vayu Naidu, and score by Barry Ganberg, Lives of Clay is a vivid and vital theatre experience, full of heart and made of mud. 

Lives of Clay premiered at Brighton Festival in May 2022 and toured until 23 September, making 14 performances at 10 different events, to an audience of c4,500 people. Touring resumes from Spring 2023 and the show, together with a range of participation activities, is available throughout the year for Festivals and outdoor events.

About The Clay Connection

Vidya Thirunarayan describes her work with dance and pottery under the banner The Clay Connection. Lives of Clay is presented in association with Supple Productions (director Tim Supple).

Vidya Thirunarayan has 25 years experience of invigorating  communities nationally and internationally through performance supported by outreach work. In 2015, she embarked on a new journey combining her dual practice in Bharata Natyam dance and ceramics, with the ambition to create a performance language that defies narrow disciplinary boundaries, rooted in cultural specificity yet universal in appeal. Lives of Clay is a manifestation of this


‘101 supported Lives of Clay through its creation, excited by the potential of Vidya’s idea to combine dance with ceramics. The result is beyond what we could have imagined; a rich, absorbing and moving mix of the mythic and the human. Lives of Clay holds the audience attention and offers something entirely new to the outdoor arts scene.’

Simon Chatterton, Strategic Lead, 101 Outdoor Arts, Newbury.

‘A very powerful and uplifting performance. World class. The clay was so expressive; never seen anything like this before.’

‘An unbelievably thrilling, conceptually deep and emotionally rich creation.’

Creative / Production credits:

Conceived and Performed by Vidya Thirunarayan

Tim Supple

Director of Choreography
Debbie Fionn Barr

Julie Belinda Landau

Vayu Naidu

Barry Ganberg

Sound Design
Alan Burgess

Lisa Wolfe

Stage and Tour Manager
Anna Weatherston

Funding, commissioning and partner credits:

Lives of Clay has been supported by Without Walls and commissioned by Certain Blacks and Brighton Festival.

Lives of Clay is presented in association with Supple Productions, supported by 101 Outdoor Arts and Arts Asia with funding from Arts Council England.


Image credits:

LE65 Photography, Stockton Borough Council, Adrienne Photography, Peter Chrisp