Collaborations can create exciting energies among artists with a common goal: to create, innovate, and build a cohesive community.

Collaborations, though, also require a shared readiness to adapt, openness to each other’s intuitions and experiences, as well as the constant awareness the project can – and, usually, does – shape-shift at various points. Hear from Karthika Naïr, poet, playwright, fabulist and Deepak Unnikrishnan, Associate Arts Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi, as they share their experiences on developing strong connections that collectively share resources, ideas, and opportunities with each other.


Deepak Unnikrishnan

Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His book Temporary People, a work of fiction about Gulf narratives steeped in Malayalee and South Asian lingo, won the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, the Hindu Prize and the Moore Prize.

Karthika Nair

Karthika Naïr is a poet, playwright, fabulist and dance scenarist. Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, her reworking of the foundational South Asian epic in multiple voices, won the 2015 Tata Literature Live Award for Book of the Year (India), and was highly commended at the 2016 Forward Prizes (UK). Les Oiseaux électriques de Pothakudi (Éditions Hélium/Actes-Sud, 2022) – her latest children’s book illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet – won the 2023 Prix Felipé for “ecological children’s literature”, and was shortlisted for the 2023 Prix Franco-Allemand de la littérature de jeunesse.

Karthika Naïr’s play Beneath the Music, created and directed by Jay Emmanuel for Encounter Theatre, premiered at the Subiaco Arts Centre in Perth in May 2023. The dance performances she has scripted and co-scripted include Akram Khan’s multiple-award-winning DESH, and Until the Lions (adapted from a chapter of her eponymous book), as well as Carlos Pons Guerra’s Mariposa, a radical reimagining of Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. She is the co-founder of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Antwerp-based dance company, Eastman, and executive producer of several of his and Damien Jalet’s works (_Les Médusés, Puz/zle, Babel(Words)_…).