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Archive for October 2013

DRAMA AND DANCE: the Lure of the Stage

Armaity on StagePerforming on stage has been an integral part of my formative years. From the time when I was a toddler pushed up on stage, to now when I yearn to be on it….the journey has been great. With all sorts of performances ranging from fancy dress competitions, dancing, acting, elocution and even singing in choirs, I am grateful to have been able to do it all. I vividly remember my ‘debut’ on stage and thankfully instead of a flush of embarrassment I can now laugh at it. I must be no more than four years old and, according to my mother, mimicked the sound of a puppy very well. So with all due encouragement and claps I was called on stage to perform my act. With knees knocking and toes curled up, a sob here and ‘bow-wow’ there, I can safely say, nobody would have expected me to come back ever again!

But there I was again the following year, thanks to mommy dearest and her enthusiasm, dancing in a ghagra (with sports shoes!!) to some Rajasthani song. There followed a series of fancy dresses where I became everything from a mermaid to a cactus; danced with dandias in hand to diyas the following year…all with great shyness. All this was during the cultural activities of our community. The school concerts weren’t doing much to boost my confidence either. I must thank my teachers, first of all, for giving me opportunities time and again, but there was nothing to be done for my mouse-like voice and skinny frame.

After a fair amount of playing housewife and other miscellaneous roles, by the time I reached high school I actually began enjoying the stage experience. By then I had done a few elocutions, won a few—and lost some, gone for camps and adventure activities got myself noticed in sports… all in all, my stage fright had begun receding.

Armaity DaverI liked it and the audience wasn’t exactly booing me off-stage either. The best part of stage performance is all the days leading up to it. The practices, rehearsals, dress rehearsals and of course, the fun and games!

After passing out of school, the best was yet to come. By a freak chance of fate I landed an amazing role of a dumb secretary in Mr. Vikash Khurana’s play. Most of Nagpur knows him and vice versa. He happens to be a family friend and thus I came in contact with ‘Stagecraft Productions’. He instilled enough faith in me to perform the role [reason also being that at that time he couldn’t find anyone else!] and taught me the finer nuances of stage dramatics.

The exposure I received due to this opportunity was new for me and felt great. The exhilaration of performing and the high one gets out of it in the end is a mixed feeling of happiness and despair. Happiness, because it went well; and despair, because the fun would soon end. Until of course the next script came in hand. And yes, a couple of more scripts did come in hand after that, and it was a wonderful thing to mingle with so many like-minded people, some of whom have become dear friends now. And I won’t be coy about the fact that it thrills me to see my name and occasionally picture in the newspaper the next day! But I’ll admit, I still don’t feel all that confident about taking things up as such and nor am I comfortable with the idea of taking over the mike and compeering. Hopefully one day I will!

moredanceI personally feel that stage dramatics is a great interest to nurture but very difficult to initiate and produce. Hats off to Mr. Vikash Khurana for his unending enthusiasm towards the art. Nagpur drama is yet to come of age but we are on our way towards it. Perhaps one day it will come up with something that will make the city proud; and I sure hope I am a part of it!

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Side note- I am now married and settled in Hyderabad caring for my twin boys. But this article was written in 2004 and I can safely say my hopes have been realized with Stagecraft Productions and V. Khurana going great guns…. So proud!

The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat

Musings of an Ordinary Actor

There are writers, much better than I, to write of the skies and hues; I write of theatre, of the stage. That is where I belong. When I got involved in theatre 4 years ago, like most other 18 year old ‘aspiring’ intellectuals, I too had a very dreamy image of the world of drama in my mind. I too, had been looking up to the men who crafted fantasies on stage for more than long now. I wanted to be one of those incredibly larger than life portrayers of magnificent characters under the arc lights. As I sit and write this blog entry now, I realise how I am farther away from what I set out to become. I have however, grown; as an actor as well as a person.

Peter Pan

Peter Pan

The stage is a giver. You expect yourself to go all about giving the best performance, in every performance, in every play, and earning rave reviews for your antics, but after every play you are humbled by the vastness of the portrait in which you are only a tiny speckle. The stage absorbs your misgivings, your fumbles and your immaturity with open arms and teaches you profound lessons. As an actor you want to be the stellar entity but you end up miserable, having been shown a mirror that glorifies your own glitches. You are not the brilliant star you thought you would become; on the contrary you are only a vehicle, a commutation enabling the writer’s and director’s thoughts to reach the audience’s conscience.

The audience will not remember you, if you’re good enough. For most of the time I have spent as a production hand or at the light console, I’ve seen the audience’s reactions from a very close angle. They laugh, they jeer, they clap; while on stage you might get the feeling that all of it is for your craft and you smudge the glory all over yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll realise some day that the applause isn’t for you! And once you’ve realised it, that’ll be a precious moment that very few fortunate actors experience.

‘When the show is over, you’ve got to take the mask off!’ You wear a new character in every play. Some colourful characters leave their stains behind; some miserable characters crush you, while some others leave behind their amorous scent. The brilliance of your performance lies only in the under-recognition of the effort you’ve made in being the character. You must think upon your character’s whim but act upon your director’s. And then the curtains come down; upon your show and upon those thousands of moments of magical being; and you realise its over. You realise that you must, for your own sake, take the mask off!

People often tell me how I have wasted time in theatre knowing that it doesn’t pay or, for that matter, even match up to the facade of popularity that acting and other allied avenues seem to garner, I throw at their passive minds the one line that has motivated me through these wonderful years of struggle on stage- Given a choice, I would much rather be an ordinary actor, than be just ordinary.

Stagecraft ADDA

Short is sweet! Stagecraft Adda Experimental Theatre has made this phrase symbolically true, the best way the people in it can do! The short plays which created a certain amount of buzz amongst the people, got to the best youth platforms available in Nagpur, and succeeded in churning out terrific response from the audience. Out of the 10 short plays that were developed under the forum of Stagecraft Adda, a certain number of plays were performed at Hislop College, VNIT and RKNEC, in college fests and specifically for the youth. The experience was thrilling, as in every show, every person in the team got associated with a new concept for the show to go on!

Sugar and Spice- National Academy of Direct Taxes (Performance date : December 15, 2012)

Sugar and Spice - I

Anamika and Raveesh in Firsht time, directed by Shweta Puranik-Pendse

With Sugar & Spice, an independent show in the National Academy of Direct Taxes Auditorium, Stagecraft Theatre ventured into the realms of experimental theatre, with its new outfit- Stagecraft Adda. The purpose was to bring about a twist in the way theatre was being perceived by us. It was necessary to delocalise the creative density in the group and expand the pool of actors and directors. 10 new directors were inducted into the fold and were told to present a 10 minute play each with a cast of their own choice. Each director and actor added their own flavour into the mix and brought about a fresh narrative style.
The plays ranged from slapstick to absurd to dramatic. Genres like situational comedy were attempted successfully by Anurag Kulkarni (Murder by Midnight), Bianca Nazareth-Arya (Turn the Other cheek) and NV Sarma (Parda Uthane se pehle); while Nandan Majumdar attempted Absurdity with ‘The Office Break’ and Raveesh Jaiswal treaded similar territory in ‘Walnut Street’. Anamika Sawarkar’s ‘Exiting’ was about a crucial conversation in a lift while Onkar Ghare’s ’10 minutes of theft’ was a battle of wits between two thieves. Sonal Trivedi’s ‘While the Bentley waits’ was a subtle romantic and Supantha Bhattacharyya’s ‘Mate’ was the character elaboration of a common man which tugged the strings of most of the audience’s hearts. Shweta Puranik-Pendse directed slapstick comedy ‘Firsht Time’ which got the loudest applause from the crowd at NADT.
The Adda also introduced 4 writers as Shweta Puranik-Pendse, Supantha Bhattacharyya, Onkar Ghare and Raveesh Jaiswal directed plays written by themselves.
The Stagecraft Adda thus wishes to continue working in the midst of innovation and experimentation in the years to come.

Sugar and Spice- Hislop College. (Performance date : July 6, 2013)

sugarandspiceII_leoAll the ten plays, developed by the 10 different directors were performed at Hislop College. After the outstanding response and feedback from the previous show of ‘Sugar and Spice…and all that’s nice’ at NADT auditorium, it was rejuvenating to witnesses the audience embracing the different plays having uncommon yet relative themes, with open arms, once again. May it be the brain racking ‘The Office Break’ or the slapstick comedy ‘Firsht Time’, the applause was as always, enthusiastic. If the show was a story, the theme was tenfold and the story was told in ten different parts! Of course, the audience response was also, ten times stronger!

‘Aarohi’- Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT)

When it is decided that a show has to be experimental, every element of it decides to be of such kind. The Stagecraft ADDA team, performed at VNIT’s annual college festival ‘Aarohi’, with a view to encourage the youth to take up performing arts and widespread the happenings of theatre activities. The three plays, ‘Office Break’, ‘Walnut Street’ and ‘Exiting’, directed by Nandan Majumdar, Raveesh Jaiswal and Anamika Sawarkar respectively, got enormous positive reaction from the theatre lovers and students all the same, present at the festival. It was the team of only 5 people taking care of acting, lights, as well as the sound for the plays, which got the plays through in grand fashion and left the audience as well as the organizers, hungry for more!

‘Pratishruti’- Shri Ramdeobaba Kamla Nehru Engineering College.(RKNEC)

In addition to the aforementioned plays, ‘Ten minutes of theft’ directed by Onkar Ghare and ‘Turn the Other cheek’ directed by Bianca Nazreth- Arya, were performed at ‘Pratishruti’, the annual college festival of RKNEC. For the first time, the plays were performed without using mikes, an experiment which paid off terrifically. With a greater than expected turn up of audience, the plays received extremely good response. A genuine fact was that the awareness of the short plays among the audience was clearly visible, with most of the publicity of the earlier shows getting generated by mouth to mouth publicity. The show was a success and the short plays were hit amongst the youth, an objective which was dutifully driven to success by the Stagecraft ADDA team.

Rope

Stagecraft Theatre Presents: Rope

An adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s nerve stretching thriller and based on Alfred Hitchcock’s critically acclaimed film.

It begins with a shriek and ends with a shot!

Synopsis

The plot involves two well-read final year engineering students, who murder a fellow student, as an expression of their supposed intellectual superiority. They then proceed to hold a dinner party, inviting the dead boy’s father, professor and friends as their guests, using a trunk that contains the corpse, as a dining table.

Cast:
Nandan Majumdar as Arnab Ganguly
Varun Vij as Baldev Singh
Vikash Khurana as Riaz Khan
Anamika Sawarkar as Gauri Karnik
Anuj Hamilton as Aditya Patwardhan
Anurag Kulkarni as Shirish Jagdale

Directed by Vikash Khurana