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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.


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!


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.

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

stagecraft adda - superior


(Rajat is sitting in his chair making notes. There is a knock heard offstage and Kumar comes in)

Rajat: Well hello, Mister Kumar! I am glad you came at the appointed time. I was hoping to cut out a little window in my schedule, since you are my last appointment. So why don’t we make this nice and quick.

Kumar: I didn’t want to come here in the first place. Why the hell wouldn’t I want it to end quickly?

Rajat: (laughing) A little angry about things are we? Well it’s perfectly normal to have little spats with the staff, its lets out that anger. We at human resource have our jobs just to ensure that we have the reason of why the spat happened.

Kumar: Yeah right!

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When Two Strangers Talk

Park setup. Two benches are placed in alignment at the center of stage. A man in plain clothes is sitting on the right bench reading ‘The accidental billionaires’. We hear a man talking loudly offstage. A woman in a suit comes in talking on her cell phone with a laptop bag on her shoulder. She walks and sits beside the man in plain clothes.

SUIT: I don’t care if you have to walk the whole damn city to make it work, do what I pay you to do! And yes, I pay you a fair amount of money so don’t give me any crap about how low your pay is and how you are getting old. If you are getting old, then I am starting to have an inclination to bloody fire you and get somebody else to do your job.

The man in plain clothes moves to the very corner of the bench when the woman in the suit sits beside him and talks.

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Sugar and Spice – Round 2


A scene from “Rab ne bana di jodi”

The Hitavada wrote about the 2nd edition of Sugar and Spice, and here is what they had to say:

Stagecraft Theatre’s forum for experimental theatre ” The Stagecraft Adda” is back after a successful beginning last year with another evening of 10 min plays.

These plays are an outcome of acting and writing workshops conducted this summer in association with Hislop Academy of performing arts.

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