PostLocal reported today that a body found Saturday in Columbia Heights has been identified as Gaurav Gopalan, an aeronautical engineer who also worked in the local theater community as a director and dramaturge:
Gaurav Gopalan held a PhD from the University of Maryland and was a researcher there at the Clark School of Engineering. A friend said he had also been involved with the former Washington Shakespeare Company, with credits as a director and stage manager.
He “adored Shakespeare” and began with the company, now WSC Avant Bard, as a volunteer, said Christopher Henley, the group’s artistic director.
Gopalan’s body was found Saturday morning in Columbia Heights by a passerby in the 2600 block of 11th Street NW with no significant visible trauma. Although he lived a few blocks away on 13th Street NW, he remained unidentified for three days. Police released a post-mortem photograph Monday to aid in learning his name.
Gopalan’s local credits include directing a 2009 production of “The Cherry Orchard” for the Washington Shakespeare Company, now called WSC Avant Bard. Our critic Nelson Pressley praised his work, saying that “the show somehow begins to bring out some of the intriguing, complicated chords in Chekhov's tantalizing play.”
“He loved Chekhov almost as much as he loved Shakespeare,” said Henley. “He said he’d do anything to work on it.”
Henley remembered a director who overwhelmed the WSC with his enthusiasm when he volunteered to work on a 2006 production of Richard II. He also worked as a stage manager and assistant director for various productions with the company from 2006-2009, and took directing classes with the Studio Theatre. In 2009, Henley says Gopalan had to take a break from theater because the demands from his aerospace job became too great.
But he returned in 2010 for what Henley said was an irresistible project for Gopalan: Constellation Theatre’s production of “The Ramayana,”as a dramaturg. The production was so popular in 2010 that Constellation brought it back last month, where it again received a great review from Pressley.
Henley says that the WSC Avant Bard will be dedicating their upcoming production of Henry IV to Gopalan.