w Blog Archives - Stagecraft Theatre
All play, no work!

Blog

All posts in Blog

An appreciation of Fool’s Paradise

Pure, unabashed comedies are as rare these days as the proverbial dodo’s eggs, be it in books or in cinemas or on stage and the Idiot Box. That’s why we old-timers rely nostalgically on a repeat dose of the eternal Wodehouse now and then when sick of the garish and loud sexcapades that are passed off for true humour.
It’d be trite to assert that P G Wodehouse was a true representative of the now-almost defunct genre: a simple, sincere comical story without sex, without psychedelic effects, and without any pretence towards something sublime or arty-fartily highfaluting. The thing that struck me most while watching ”Fool’s Paradise”, a play inspired by Wodehouse’s novel ”Bachelors Anonymous” was the utmost earnestness with which it was written, produced, and staged. The entire team not only caught the essence/spirit (”atma”?) of the nonagenarian novelist’s humour correctly, but also kept the sap flowing for the entire duration of the play without awkwardness or without any loss of the momentum. The performance was full of vim, brio, and a sort of joie-de-vivre that is a rare commodity these days. A tip of my hat to the writer-director duo and to all the artists who brought that special Wodehouse moment alive on the stage that day — that same moment which makes our face glow with a sense of quaint happiness whenever we open and re-re-re-read a well-thumbed Wodehouse book for the umpteenth time.
But let me begin at the beginning. P G Wodehouse lived up to the ripe old age of 93 and wrote more than 100 humorous books that included novels, short stories, essays, poems, and plays. Almost all of his books are widely-acclaimed and still read throughout the world (in original English or in translation). There is a serene gentleness in his words, a soul-soothing music that is in-built, and a universal benevolence towards All Creatures Big And Small. He relied mostly on word play rather than going in for direct, fast action. His themes were a eulogy for love and happiness. It’s a direct escape route for all those who want to avoid the harsh and often awful realities of this world. A panacea for our maladies, a heart- balm, as it were.
To choose one novel from the stables of such a Master and to adapt it to our own culture, to give these foreign words ”a local habitation and a name” (as Mr Shakespeare says), to drape them in our colours, to create a perfectly desi (native) ambiance, and suffuse it with a liberal sprinkling of contemporary lingo, making the whole a convincing offering, is no mean a task by any standards. Both Ms Ankita Athawale who gave the final product a shape as its Author and Mr Vikash Khurana who poured life in its body as Director have done a tremendous job and successfully brought forth a delectable Wodehousean comedy for the entertainment of Indian audiences. It is a refreshing treat, something that was long overdue and something that should whet a connoisseur’s appetite making him (or her) clamour for more.
The appreciation of humour is a fundamental, though mysterious, part of human cognition. What makes one thing funnier than another? According to some theories that studied humour, in everything that is to excite a lively convulsive laugh there must be something absurd (Kant). Also, the ludicrous requires a contrast between representation of perception and abstract representations (Schopenhauer). In my opinion, in Wodehouse we can see the perfect manifestation of these ideas; and in ”Fool’s Paradise” also we come across them on stage in the form of an hour-and-half-long nonstop verbal give and take between the characters who successfully bring to life the fourteen consecutive scenes through their comical actions, gestures, body language, and true-to-life portrayals without any overacting or without letting the story degenerate into farce.
As I said, this is not an exact translation of the original Wodehouse theme. It is a free adaptation and the main success of the play is the way in which the central idea has been clothed in our routine, day-to-day, familiar attires. We can easily identify with the characters, none of whom sound or look alien or outré. We meet a journalist who falls in love with a playwright. There is a veteran film producer who is also a veteran of several marriages, all broken one after another. This has soured his outlook and he now avoids women like flies. He is afraid of himself because he cannot help proposing to any girl who catches his eye. Taking a cue from the famous AA or ”Alcoholics Anonymous”, three friends who have vowed to remain single form an organisation called the Bachelors Anonymous. They keep talking each other off from becoming a victim of female pulchritude and walking up the wedding aisle. Then there is a rather strong-willed globe-trotter whose comeuppance comes when he has to eat a humble crow. (I’m mixing my metaphors here.) The crowning absurdity is a very unlikely inheritance from a rabid anti-tobacco crusader. The whole caboodle (or ”kadbole” – cud’bolé -, as no doubt, the very typical Marathi (Maharashtriyan) Plain Jane of the play Ms Saraswati Pandharpurkar would term it) is nothing short of a big barrelful of explosive guffaws, loud laughs, and rib-tickling mirth.
The comic timing is just perfect. The comebacks echo with genuine spontaneity. There is nothing contrived about the dialogues, they are pure comic and wittily dynamic. As the story unfolds, we get insightful glimpses of the characters’ mindset: they are unabashedly urban, perfect specimens of a true, contemporary, cosmopolitan, upper-class, jet-set ”Bambaiya” (Mumbaian) milieu. Their interaction with each other reflects their views on love, desire, ambition, and romance. We get involved in them and instantly transported to a world where such zany people abound. The dialogues are indeed zippy; quite cleverly penned by Ms Athawale who has taken care to not letting down the Wodehousean spirit. In fact, we are time and again reminded of his verbal felicities in one-line zingers in this play, such as ”It is possible her mother loved her” or ”An Ethiopian slave tell Cleopatra to go drown in the Nile?” or ”Every time he got up from dinner, he felt like a couple of wild cats were fighting the wildcat world wrestling championships inside him”. I was particularly delighted with this little gem:
<< GIRISH: Drinks and dinner tonight? Half-past seven? Alfredos in Juhu?
JO: Half-past seven, it is. I don’t remember the last time I heard some say half-past-something in real life. You are a vintage piece, in a nice way. >>
It is quite obvious from all such sparkling nifties and other multi-word jokes that Ms Athawale has taken great pains to polish and re-polish her offering to make it just perfect. She has liberally laced the dialogues with contemporary slang without which they would not have become convincing. Words like Yaar, rat’s ass, bitch, fly out with ease and there are a couple of ‘fucks’ too thrown in for good measure. However, it’s all done fluently and there is nary a trace of anything vulgar or undesirable. Every scene slides into the next smoothly and there is no jarring note to be heard throughout the duration of the play. The total effect is spellbinding, every moment as hilarious as the next.
All the actors in this play have done full justice to their respective roles. Amrit Lal (Nitish Chandra) was extremely convincing as the rich movie producer. His bearing was just what it should have been. Ivor (Jumbo) Llewellyn of Wodehouse’s novel is a portly, authoritarian movie magnate. Amrit often reminded me of him and his otherwise bossy but at- heart henpecked nature. His rendition of a few lines from Louis Armstrong’s famous 1967 song “What a wonderful world” was delicious. He sang with great flair but without realising – or caring about – the tune which was bad, just the way Ivor would have done it! Karan Motiyal (Vivek Daga) was really at ease on stage and carried the day with his sterling artistry. His delivery of Kipling’s lines (The toad beneath the harrow knows Exactly where each tooth-point goes. The butterfly upon the road Preaches contentment to the toad) was superb.
Especially his hand gestures. Sonal Trivedi-Malkan as Saraswati Pandharpurkar was absolutely a true- life representation of a pukka Marathi girl of middle- class origins and upbringing. A special mention must be made of Bianca Nazareth-Arya’s portrayal of Devika Sundar, a lady lawyer of some standing. She looked every inch a busy Bombay lawyer with slightly uppish looks and curt demeanour. Her costume matched her stage persona. Other characters equally ably and faultlessly brought to life by the performers were Girish Modi (Raveesh Jaiswal), Jyoita Arya (Arya Diwakar), and Niranjan Soni (Onkar Ghare). All of them worked as a team to pour life in the performance and seeing to it that the cracking pace never slackened.
Finally a word about the man whose love for the theatre and passion for this great art made this possible. Mr Vikash Khurana is no stranger to Nagpur’s English drama lovers. He has been doing a yeoman’s service in this field since last fourteen years or more and this was his 69th gift to us as director-producer. What a fantastic dish he has cooked this time! His special touch was visible in every scene and dialogue delivery. The actors obeyed his commands faithfully. He was able to bring out the best in every one of them. Each actor superbly fitted the role assigned to him or her. One could hear him speaking through them, as it were. I am sure they were not mere puppets dancing to his tune but even while enjoying the liberty to live the role as per their own interpretation, they never exceeded the boundaries set by Mr Khurana and thus helped make the play a perfect, cohesive unity. Khurana’s subtle touches were more than satisfactory. He caught on the nuances in-built in the words and provided just that much extra impetus that makes all the difference. With a minimalistic but very efficient use of property on stage, and a veteran director’s eye for minor details, he skillfully created a world peopled by these eccentric characters. It was a sheer pleasure to enjoy this highly unusual dramatic experience. Beginning with a short monologue the play travelled towards an unexpected finale — rapidly wending its way through a serpentine maze of scenes, all under the careful supervision of the master director. The highlights of the whole exercise were the dialogue delivery and body language of the actors, more than actual action. They spoke in gloriously desi (native) accents, a pleasure to listen to. All in all, it was an evening well spent and as I left the auditorium, a sort of lovely Wodehousean tranquility filled my mind, and the only words I could utter were: l’Encore, l’Encore.
Kudos to everybody involved in this presentation: writer, director, performers, and backstage workers. You have been simply wonderful, guys. As for Vikash Khurana, all I can do is to repeat a very nice phrase people in Wodehouse’s books use to record their appreciation and praise: “Vikash, old man, you are the bee’s roller-skates!” We expect you and your teammates to shower us with many more such charming Wodehousean gifts in future also.

Harshawardhan Nimkhedkar

Sherlock Holmes 3

I Tell a Tale

I tell a tale, I tell a tale of a clown.
About his life weaved around footlights and anticipated frowns.

He goes around every evening,
to see people who weep!
The people who weep in their despair,
Because by the foolishness he mumbles,
he lets people some happiness to share.

He goes around every evening,
to find people who let their faces pale,
Being the joker of their lives,
his monkey business being the town’s only amusing tale.

He goes around every evening,
digging the morose out!
His dislikes for disdain is where the mockery comes loud.

He goes around every evening,
to search the doomed clan,
Only to come back home and find in the mirror, the masquerader, the saddest man!

Written by
Pragya Mishra
Pragya is an engineering student with a passion for writing and theatre.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Midsummer

The Utopia called Theatre

Oh how the magic unfolds as the wood speaks of the pains your feet take, how the air sparkles with the dust of your sweat, how my eyes are blinded by the light of your arms, and suddenly the ebony glimpses and silhouettes take me to the world unknown. You are my hero, my villain, my weed in the grass and my tree on the island. You are the star shaped clouds in my summer sky, and the sails to my ship. I hear the roars of your agony and the sighs of your footloose thoughts that wander the streets of your empty head. I see the words floating and making perfect scenes of your story, I hear the music of your lines. What I see is a world from my seat, so clear that I become you, I feel the pain, I feel the walls becoming my oblivion and I gaze onto the spectators as though they are one.

I make the red curtains a symbol of my play pretend, and the white light my complexion, I make the dais my castle and the wood my feast. I don’t sit and see the theatre, I feel the theatre, because you, you make me a believer!

Written by
Anjali Mishra
Anjali is an engineering student with a passion for writing and theatre.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Rebecca

An Ancient Greek Extravaganza!

An ancient god who represented the wild and the free, the unconventional and the unexpected. Isn’t it amazing that concepts and practices in theatre, relevant even today, owe their roots to him?

Dionysus was the Greek god of the grape harvest, wine-making, fertility, religious ecstasy and theatre. He is often represented as a foreigner. Hundreds of years back, as early as the sixth century BC, a festival called Dionysia was celebrated in Athens, in honor of Dionysus. Citizens would gather in large numbers for cheer, merry-making and no less than a feast for the intellect – theatre!

Tragedy, comedy and satyr blossomed in all their glory in ancient Greece. In the earlier years of the drama competition, which was the central event at the Dionysia, tragedies were staged and celebrated. Four playwrights cum directors (often, they were the actors too) were chosen to compete. The performances by each contestant would take up a day! And yet, the enthusiasm of the spirited audience held strong!

Thespis, one of the winners at the contest, is often called the ‘Father of Tragedy’. We still refer to him every time we use the word ‘thespian’.

Theatre then was a little different than what we know it as today. At the times of the great tragedies, the cast was often just one person. The second and third actor were major additions! It would be a grand affair involving a lot of verse and song.

Exaggerated masks and costumes were common, increasingly so in the comedies that came into popularity in later years, after the time of Alexander the Great. In fact, the shape of the mask helped the actor’s voice to project forth.

And the audience listened, spellbound.

Much as we do today.

 

Written by
Khatija Ferhy
Khatija is a writing enthusiast who enjoys learning how to create a good piece of art, with words.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Christmas Carol

THE NEW OF THE OLD

Stagnancy is nature’s way of saying that there is a need of something new. It comes to everything, be it life, time, culture and even society. So naturally, it must have crept in theatre as well, at some point of time.

For a certain part of the society, theatre is still an elitist form of culture. The image of theatre is of an old man, aging, fading and mostly reminiscing about the long gone past. And that’s why the emergence of short plays is nothing short of a miracle.

Just imagine. A story unfolds in front of you in a few minutes. Characters etched in minds in the span of a short meal. And yet, they provide a familiar feeling of ecstasy, which only this medium knows how to. It’s too good to believe, and yet, it’s remarkably successful.

Short plays are quite simply put, lots of fun. A writer pens down his most radical of thoughts. A director brainstorms his heart out and paints a picture worthy of the stage and the actors give life to characters before you can even blink your eyes.

It is on the foundation of these short plays, we’ve seen such an increase in the number of theatre enthusiasts in the last few years. These short plays are accessible, to the artists, as well as, the audience. An evening full of them allows an audience member to enjoy a variety of genres, writing styles and stories, which frankly, was not possible in the good old days.

So, I believe, had there not been short plays, there would not have been a concept of modern interest in theatre. They need credit. Because they’re the only way a theatre group can amass 70 original plays in 4 and half years.

And yes, that’s a fact.

 

Written by
Onkar Ghare
Onkar is a law student, who also likes to act, write and direct plays.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

VR

GET BACK TO THEATRE

We are part of a world which is evolving every day. Something is changing; something different is happening every minute. And, yes, we all are encompassing change.

Similar is with theatre. It has evolved in its own ways and methods. From poetic dramas to problem plays, it has spread worldwide. But needless to say, in today’s world, our outlook towards theatre has changed or I would say it is different.

While some are running to the auditions of Bollywood films and some considering theatre as a stepping stone to the industry. Amidst all of this, the charm has been lost.

Today’s generation works, plays, gyms to post pictures and videos on various social networking sites, like it is the primitive objective of why we do all those things for. With reference to theatre which sure can be done as a hobby with a sincere effort. And sincerity comes from focusing and working hard and not by constantly updating status, or to look good, for that matter. To perform good, yes. But not to look good. If your character demands you to look a certain way or wear something unconventional, you go ahead with a smile that you can at least have the opportunity to be someone who is not conventional rather than being sceptical about how you would look. Not everyone is blessed to get such an opportunity.

An opportunity, that can be revered forever. An opportunity which will no matter what remain in your heart as one of the most loved memories. An opportunity which pushes you to do something and be someone different on the stage and forget about everything and everyone else while enjoying yourself in that world.

So, friends, come back to that life again where you don’t need mobile phones in your hands to document the act, instead, your hands can clap for the team you’ve been a part of, for putting up a sincere act.

So, don’t just be in theatre, get back to it.

 

Written by
Arya Diwakar
Arya is an English Literature student who has a penchant for theatre and writing.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Midsummer night

Theatre – A Virtual World

World of theatre, a small but an extravagant virtual stage thriving in this bubble of harsh realities, teaches you lessons of life better than the experiences of the real world. Due to the vast difference in real experiences a question arises, to which I have thought hard but am unable to answer, the question of reality. Is the social cycle in which I live in compatible, to the actuality and rationality of theatres? Through a daylong of hard work, I wonder what attracts all of us here to this stage, to perform & play our role in this solidified imaginary which we call ‘theatre’. A journalist plays the character of a joker; an engineering student plays the role of a father, a businessman plays the role of a waiter and so on. Well, we are connected together because of our passion to play what we’re not. Yes ‘passion’, the link between all these questions with their answers, Passion towards this beautiful art of enactment, pretence and imitation, towards the art of THEATRE.

We can call ourselves fortunate enough that we get a chance to be so many variant characters in one single life. The cycle is such that after practising hard for hours & hours comes the ‘Show Time’, the time when both the worlds meet, come face to face, the reality to see and the de facto to show. The anxiety when we’re sitting in the backstage, just waiting for the encounter, those goose bumps rising with the announcements and then that adrenaline rush when we are on stage gives you the most enjoyable thrill of life. After the show, we wait for our rewards ‘The Praise’ yes the commendation on our imitation of the TRUTH. Quoting, Sir Xenophon “The sweetest of all sound is the sound of praise”. Every time when a play comes to an end it brings that overwhelming feeling of returning back to the real world which we left every time waiting for another writer to pen down another story, carving a different world for us to escape to.

But wait, end is always about a new beginning, isn’t it? Every character we played left behind some of its traits in us & gave us not only a new avatar in our real life but also helped us to develop more as an actor in our theatrical life too. Moreover, it gave us a new insight towards our relations we held in our ‘social life’ of the theatre. Some get a caring brother, so some get a super sister, some landed up getting cool parents and with all these roles we bonded truly to have a great friendship.  Now you know that why people call us ‘Stage crafters’, one big family.  The memories & the moments we spent with each other onstage as well as offstage are so exquisite that it can be cherished all our life.

World of Theatre is not restricted just to the dialogues spoken on stage to convey the thoughts of a writer. It has some more entertaining art forms too to offer its audience. One of them is Mime, an art form which is all about over expressing your thoughts. A man in complete black attire with a face painted white acting with all he got, his expressions his body motions but without uttering a word from his mouth & still conveying his message as effectively, as an actor with dialogues would have done. This form of Silent Theatre acts has spotted legendary artists in the world such as Charlie Chaplin & Rowan Atkinson.

Another theatre art form I particularly like is Street theatre. Imagine you’re enjoying a wonderful time walking pass through a park or shops on the street but all of a sudden a group of enthusiastic artists start performing in front of you with no mikes no music but all they got is an unmatchable energy channelling which, they perform their act which is enough to transmit you their message.

On similar notes, we performed our act though not on street that time but in a restaurant. People out there were having a good time with their loved ones enjoying their dinner & on the spur of the moment, we started our act. Watching an audience on their respective seats, with us performing on stage in an auditorium or theatre is usual but performing in front of the same audience with spoons in their hands eating their dinner with confused looks on their face watching us performing between their tables trying to make use of every inch of space available and the stuff present around them as our props was really an incredible experience for an artist.

There are so many experiences to share, so many learned lessons to talk about. Life at the Theatre is that hangover which never ends; it is that starve of learning new things, which never dies. This virtual world of theatre has so many hidden treasures waiting to be explored by an artist as well as its audience. I hope people of the real world keep being interested in our dear world of theatre. Because “Movies will make you famous, television will make you rich but theatre will make you good”- Terrence Mann.

 

Written by
Mustafa Neemuchwala
Mustafa Neemuchwala is an Engineering student & an enthusiastic theatre artist.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Pantomime Cat

Magic of Theatre!

It is one minute until the curtains go up. My heart is beating in my throat, my knees knocking, my teeth chattering, sweat dripping down my back and I feel a drop travel which further causes anxiety and I break out into a cold sweat. Never have I ever felt this kind of panic; not even when I was in the labour room and yet I feel this again and again and every time when the curtain is about to rise. Then in a moment, the lights dim, the music plays and the magic begins.

Not many understand the time and hard work it takes to put a show together, right from first reading to the performance day. Hours are spent creating costumes and sets, learning lines and dances, collecting props, show marketing, and so much more. It truly takes dedication and passion to bring a show to life and make it all happen seamlessly.

People often wonder, and trust me I have been asked as to why I am willing to give so much time; why am I drawn to do shows over and over again and gladly work to the point of exhaustion to be a part of the cast or crew.

The answer is simple, there is nothing like the magic of theatre. It is visceral – you can feel it.

I get to create, delve, uncover and bring a character to life, be a person that is completely unlike who I am, chance to see what it feels like to be someone else and to do things that I might normally not, basically capture the essence of a person.

I get the magical powers to transport the audience to another time and place, to make them laugh or cry, to make them see things that are not even there. All in an effort to entertain and inspire and weave magic every time.

So once again soon, I will find myself in the wings at one minute before, facing the same frenzy just so I can create something special, create a little magic.

 

Written by
Radhika Joshi
Radhika is an ebullient and vivacious personality, who is passionate about everything, including her writing.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Adda 6 copy

ACTOR OF SHADOWS

Shout. Cry. Laugh. Scream. Dance. Connect. Believe and stop.

Now breathe. Because you are about to take that first step on stage – where your heartbeats echo, where you take a giant leap, where the audiences piercing eyes may not be seen in the dark but can be felt – a space that belongs to no one; where you are alone with just a reflection; portraying a shadow that is hollow but not diminishable. Varied emotions and perhaps, some syllables… The only thought is to lose everything and to surrender every bit of yourself to that shadow, who you now believe, is you. Now, one just doesn’t act, but gazes at the reflection in the mirror, conveying that today I am here with someone I don’t know.

Lights. The audiences focus their attention on the actor, but the performer is unaware and oblivious because, with every second he transcends all his energy, looking at that very mirror which is his only spectator, just like his shadow, telling a story that changes everything.

It’s not the other that you become; it’s the emotion of the soul. You find it, understand it and express it with everything you have.

Shout. Cry. Laugh. Scream. Dance. Connect. Believe and..

AND THE STAGE DELIVERS ITS FIRST DIALOGUE

 

Written by
Anadi Sharma
Anadi is a management student and a talented and enthusiastic actor and content writer.

Image Source: Stagecraft Archives
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Stagecraft Theatre and Stagecraft Theatre does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Page 1 of 612345...Last »