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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Perspectives in Life!

I just got reminded suddenly by this line I rememebered from Gautam's WOOD, which I performed a couple of years back. It went something like this... "From (something) to (something else) with one change in perspective" (What that something is, I shall refer to the script and quantify. As usual am a bad actor with bad memory for lines. Duh!)

And I thought how in one simulacrum of time's nodal curves, one can "From God to Dog" become... because people's interests shift or priorities change and words of yore (meant honest at the moment, no doubt) can conveniently be described by the mouth of origin to have become something that was received as misinterpretation or "just misunderstood at the point of reception!" LIFE! How people use and throw!! Never be nice? No... one must still continue to be nice. Otherwise, there is no difference. Change is constant, all right. But fickleness of convictions and fluctuating minds and vacillating hearts out of convenience?

As Gandhi said, I too "don't hate people per se, only their actions" from time to time. The world is bad but not without hope! What goes around, comes around.

Waiting for...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Kandinsky and the Compositions - Part II

Ok... now that I have found out I am refreshed enough to blog the world for the 4th time in under 24 hours... onwards and upwards... This time the word is...Composition X

WELL... this dates back to 1939. Although started in 1938 sometime when Kandinsky was in Paris... it was a more painstaking effort and perhaps the most vibrant of all. At least definitely my favourite. Obvious isn't it? The predominating BLACK in the background and all those flying lines and curves ... it's like a MARDI GRAS IN SPACE for me! Yes, the work actually was started in 1938. But I was kidding. Wassily started it in Dec 1938 and finished in Jan 1939!

Composition 10 is the last in the series of Compositions. Sometimes am confused whether it is Comp 10 or Comp X - meaning the unnumberable one like the number 'n' in mathematics. Or is it like Mr. X? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Anyway... it is even more remarkable compared to the other Compositions because of its radical departure from fuzziness in some of the other predecessors of this discerning series.
Look at the image. You will understand. There is no hesitation. There is a certain clarity. There is absolute playfulness that had been arrived at through long obsessive hours of discerned and calculated seminal-texture to this theory of the use of color, space, lines, curves and ultimately the canvas (Read with a CAPITAL C!)

Composition X actually belongs to his late works as well. And it not only completes the Compositions series, but also connectes with later works as a link. It is less murky, more relaxed, even cheerful. And it's grammar and idiom are more formalised.Well, in a sense it is a darker painting in that everything is hovering about. Notice in the pix above the bio-morphic formations... the embryonic quality to the image segments. More a picture for joyous study to some biology student and life-science student. Biomorphic... embryonic and cell-shaped structures dominate... inspite the dark and brown-black background.This was to become the unique feature of Kandinsky's work, in retrospective analytical terms, I mean.According to Kandinsky "Black was the least expressive colour"... but on which any colour can express itself.

To quote him "Black was the least expressive colour on which every other colour, even those with the least power of expression can express more strongly, more precisely". The cheerful impression which results from the strong contrast of colours is juxtaposed against (or should I say married with) the foregrounding of more brighter colours. It is very Russian. The concentration of dark hues and scientific touch to any subject. And what of the zoomorphic and biomorphic forms? He recognised the expression of cosmic laws in the general organic nature, the processes of regeneration and new beginnings of life, which he attempted to present in pictorial form... but in his own geometric but abstract style.Composition X is the supreme example and the quintessence of Kandinsky's art.

We will next quickly take comparitive peek at his contemporary and soul-mate Oskar Schlemmer's work. That would lead us to the Bauhaus connection.

Further Thoughts about Being/Going Professional!

Ok, folks, if anyone gets to read this at all...see if you can survive through this. Am judgemental and pre-meditative here when I say you won't accept any of this or most... because am so convinced that we Indians are petty minded and do not have the honesty to distance ourselves and take self-criticism or social satire when it is aimed at ourself. READ ON!

Someone asked me, in the course of our discussion the other day, what is being professional mean? Does Chennai have the possibility of going professional in mainstream english theatre? Will it ever become professionally oriented?What are the possibilities! Now what does profession mean? Doing it as a job to earn livelihood? Earning sustenance out of it? Pursuing it as a career out of passion, fondness... etc? Irrespective of the need to materially spiral in the embraced vocation, mindless and aware of the fact that it would not get comforts and luxuries that one wants out of the need to emulate others in the society?

Well, several things. All these AND... more importantly, accepting the ups and downs, anarchy and platitudes of colleagues, going through to the end even if chemistry falls out on the way with the team; having the gumption and temerity to take stands out of principle and sticking to it come what may; not trading horses or jumping stocks half-way; not jeopardising the team or original project objective at the face of personal slights; and having the self-respect more than anything to unflinchingly take hard-line stands and abide by it.Well, as long as theatre is done out of excitement of adolescence or passion or fashion or in pursuit of the two-bit applause at the end of performance or indiscriminately... Chennai will never go professional.

SIMPLE RULE OF THUMBS must be STRIVEN AT. EXAMPLE?The realisation that professional interests and amateur passion should not go together. Amateurs must avoid working with professionals if they cannot bring about the same seriousness. It is hazardous to those who seek living through theatre. Professionals must seek co-professionals or train people towards a professional need-based attitude towards work. Training is not theatre skills or craft. It is a mental state where people should work out of common interests and supportive of each other's existential needs. Theatre is not Qwikys or Barista. Theatre is office.


At the end of the performance, only the actors must take curtain calls. On the premiere night the Director should take the curtain call. The director need not be on stage at the end of further performance nights. S/he can sit among the public and watch (perhaps even take feedback notes). The technicians must remain what they are: Back-stage people. The lengthy craving of public's indulgence by way of thanking sponsors, introducing crew, FoH, coffee-stall people, relatives, friends... anyone must be avoided. That is what the Program Bill is for. As long as we practise THANKING those who contributed in real-time on stage, theatre would remain only a ritual. There is not a show where a specific set of people in the audience do not clap for their own dearies... and sustain their clap for the next couple of on-stage curtsie-rs... and then fade out in their clap to just a mime show... to only stop at some point because they don't relate to those who are not those whom they came to see and applaud. So why do it? It is a ritual. The audience is waiting out of politeness to go out.


If one believed in what they are doing or just did, one would just go about quietly having finished the job for the day.


It is true only the actors must take curtain calls... but also on behalf of the crew. THE CURTAIN CALL IS A WAY OF SAYING THANKS TO AUDIENCE and NOT basking in claps assuming stupidly the claps are applause for their performance. HALF THE TIME - the truth of the matter is - IT IS NOT. Most performances, judged by professional standards, that includes MINE as well, are junk, amateurish and undeserving of kudos. In such circumstances, the applause is either a ritual of politeness or smacks of socialite back-slapping.The actors must leave the stage upon final Fade Out or Black Out... and wait at the wings or in The Green Room (if it is nearer) and enter to take Curtain Call only if they hear claps from the audience. Having taken one, should immediately exit and only upon an Encore clap, they must re-enter. Otherwise it is shameless pandering. This procedure is what is followed invariably in all - that includes pro and amateur - theatre companies/groups of the western world from which our modern day english theatre (even if it is an Indian play performance) practises have been copied.Having taken and done with curtain calls, actors must vanish into the Green Rooms to remove make-up, costume and change-over as normal people that they are, and then come out and entertain personal arse-kissing of friends, family, relatives, admirers, sycophants, al.

Similarly, before the show and during the intermission no one must be encourage in the Green Room area.There are many more... but suffice it to say, this sounds a humungous list of to-dos that can't be followed even 2% by practitioners of theatre in Chennai. Then how can we get professional. The only law is the Law of Moses. Am not talking Capital Punishment. I mean it metaphorically. Strict laws strictly abided without compromises alone will make professionalism in anything. Sure, it is going to hurt some. But this in no way is detrimental to seeing performers as human beings or would lobotomise their personality and make robotomised motors on stage, rather would lead to disciplined, focussed, concentrated performances respectful of the audience's time investment to watch genuine theatre.Yes, of course, the stupid Adapting or Indianising of scripts should stop... Adaptation should happen as a result of a certain milieu-based need... it must be borne out of the need to SAY something IMPORTANT to the audience. Not just to tickle the undersides and gills of audience into cheap farcical or slapstick laughter. When do we localise a global thing... or globalise a local thing? When there is a definite need. If a script is inherently good in its comic nature, why adapt? If it is irrelevant to the audience then why bring it to public? If we can't do responsible or relevant theatre... we may just as well do kitchen-sink and bedroom and boulevard comedies as they exist without changing it. If it is entertainment that people want, why warp it? Give it as it is... Most times, to me, adaptation seems like the inability of the producing team to raise to the level of the script. It only speaks of our disbelief in the work per-se. Then why do theatre? CHENNAI WILL GET PROFESSIONAL? I have my doubts. And at the moment am no exclusion to this theory. But at least am aware and that matters.

Exeunt Stage Right, without Alarums or excursions. Amen. If you clap I take curtain call. Or I stay put.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Kandinsky and the Compositions - Part I

Ok, here it is... for a long time, I have been threatening both on blog and in real time to put up something on Wassily Kandinsky. There it is finally.

Dear art-unsavvy friends of mine, please bear with this. Seek info in real time if it interests you!


Kandinsky created a total of 10 large format pictures all entitled Composition(s). The series is titles Compositions (obvious, idn't it?)

Composition IV - 1911

Composition IV is one of his major works - esp during his transition phase from depictive shapes to abstraction.Kandinsky freed lines off the function as just outlines and created a certain pictorial vocabulary (I love the expression, freeing lines of outline function. True isn't it how warped we are and use lines as just geometric slave-frames!) that really placed equal importance and emphasis on lines and colour.

According to him, a composition is "made up of the contrasts between masses, lines and colours, and only secondarily of objects to which the representation alludes". Several of the elements in Comp. IV such as the mountain, the Cossacks, the rainbow at the back, the twin figures or the gallopping horses in the top left hand section refer to predetermined objects and figures. Of course, abstractionists would readily notice that. Conservative naturalistic and realistic minds would take a while to figure out. But this is Expressionism we are talking. And the Man of the Bauhaus Movement!

The combined effect of primary and secondary motifs (and thematic constructs to go with it), the edgy but deliberate nervous and patchy style of painting, the stark colourfulness and powerful imagination veil the picture's fundamental structural composition.

Look how the vertical axis divides the picture so effortlessly into two halves: the mountains with the motifs depicted on top of them provide almost a third section. For a desultory eye, the 3rd section is almost part of the second. But not really so! A diagonal line adds a certain kinetic - even dynamic - touch to this composition.

Watch out for other compositions. And my links to a Kandinsky web-page in the Links section shortly, comprising jpg reproductions of his works. They are available all over the web. But am compiling them for an avid Wassily enthusiast.