Wednesday, December 20, 2006
One can take up art as a casual or desultory hobby; or as an intensely passionate pursuit. One can embrace art as an amateur or as a professional. It can be a paid vocation or obsessive pursuit involving satisfaction as the goal. In whatever form, once we take up to it, we are artists at some level or other. And we have duties.
First, whatever be the plane of involvement, we are bound by some rules and codes, ethics and etiquettes. Theatre especially is a team game always and ever. Part of the team is an actor. What defines ones frame of mind as regards amateur or professional is this recognition of oneself as a part than the dominant pie. An actor, to put it bluntly, is the most dispensable but most inclusive part of a production. We are not even talking about a performance in terms of a show. A work of production becomes a show only when the audience-factor gets involved. To an artist who is more concerned about the creative process of a production, the audience is/are dispensable as much as an actor. The fact of the matter is an actor could be created. An actor can be developed. Any body could be trained to act. But imparting - self or to other - the foundations or the basic underlying approach to perform a specific role alone does not create a complete actor.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Cast: James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell…
Responses to the movie have been wide-ranging from “Reynolds has again delivered a lavish adventure for audiences who like their entertainment earnest and their storytelling straightforward” by romance-o-philes who just go emotional over every movie of its ilk and genre to “A tepid, tinny modernist recasting of the epic romance...something like a WB Network twentysomething soap opera in medieval dress.”
If you’re not convinced, try this contrast: “Intensely romantic and artistically photographed, 'Tristan & Isolde' is a welcome quality release during the January movie doldrums,” feels the critic of Reeltalk Movie Reviews while another critic asks, “Do we really want less magic in our legends? And if these stories are stripped of their mythic aspects, are they even very interesting anymore?” Now, that is T+I’s problem. The heart of these legends is their mythic proportion of saga-making, which is their soul as well. Accepted, T+I is touted as the precursor to R&J; but then again, what it lacks is the most vital aspect of a tale of love and passion – the selfsame heart! There is too much confusion in the mind of Reynolds as to what must dominate.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
COMING UP Next...
from MASQUERADE - the performance group
Three Short Hilarious Bedroom Farces of varying lengths
In the cast: Amit Singh, Karan Ram, Gitanjali Raman, Tara Raman, Krishna, Abhinav & Gayathri
Directed by KK
Venue: TOP STOREY, Alliance Francaise, Chennai
Dates: 9th & 10th December, 2006
Time: 3.30 pm & 7.15 pm
Tickets - Rs. 100/- available at
Alliance Francaise (Reception - 28279803/28271477)
Hippocampus (Abiramapuram, next to Sony World - 24661544)
Words & Worth (Besant Nagar)
Upon Advance Direct Purchase:
Rs. 80/- only upon purchase done before 5th December
Email email@example.com with Subject: Tix for SML
or call Masquerade Hotline at 93802 86129 RIGHT NOW!
Brief about the show: SML brings to you a package of three light-hearted plays that take a dig at Dating, Marriage, Divorce, Suicide... the women & men who cause it... and the average Joe's like us who try and help people and go through the third-party agony.
WOMEN - you can't live with them... you can't live without them
* - Performance not advisable for person below 16 years. We've warned you, it's upto you!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I have always maintained that the late Rajiv Gandhi was the greatest thing that happened to this country this side of the MISA-Emergency of the 70s. What was that side of MISA? Of course, our Independence. But for the late Rajiv Gandhi, India would probably have maintained the status quo in this global village of liberal economy and new consumerism. Whether it is good or bad, don’t ask me yet! And what has that got to do with this pretense of an Op-Ed in a tabloid that does not have a very wide reach as yet? Well, read on!
Somebody asked me what I was going to do for Madras Day. As a so-called responsible citizen who has been born and brought up in the city and lived virtually all my life here, and now that I am also a socially responsive theatre-activist who talks activism, I set about the deed. The first step was thinking. What was I thinking? What is it that we could give back to this city, irrespective of people who hate calling it Chennai or people who like to remember it as Madras? Therein lay my egg of Columbus.
A line from a play I once did (in 1995, I think) called Romulus the Great came to my mind hard and clear. It goes thus: “[sic] Rome has become old; it has become an old hag; it has become a den of thieves and murderers…” And Rome is not very far from Madras either. It is time we gave a face-lift and physical makeover to this 269-year-old hag. So what is the solution? First change Madras to Chennai (that happened in 1995, right?). Then… wait for the world to realize that Dilli, Mumbai and Kolkata are bursting at their seams in their own ways and let’s move South! And then? Declare Madras as legacy and heritage, clarion Chennai as IT Park, package our heritage and call it Brand Madras. And have the first settlement day at Fort St. George that day in 1637 as Madras Day!!
Rajiv Gandhi’s liberalization of the economy, Narasimha Rao’s freewheeling of commerce and Manmohan Singh’s globalization of the nation… A congressional aggression. It has led to cities going turbo on becoming metro so much so that heterosexuals have become metrosexuals, men have become unisexed and women have become psychologically androgynised. Gyms are thriving, boutiques are flourishing, coffee pubs and other sort of bars are nourishing (of course, themselves). Only the Adyar River is languishing. There’s no point even talking of River Cooum or Buckingham Canal.
A trivia: Do you know Madraspatnam of yore used to have three rivers called River Cooum, Buckingham Canal and Adyar Estuary that we also had our triveni-sangam? Alas… Pondicherry can package its water, Kovai can package its Siruvani, but we?
There is this little joke among the Brits and the Americans who lived on either side of the Atlantic. They fondly call it the Pond and themselves as people on both sides of the pond. The First world – I am reminded of Arundati Roy, who points to how ‘the rich are always called the First’ – has risen so vertically that the vast ocean that separated these land masses has started resembling a little pond from those heights.
Chennai is no stranger to this phenomenon. We are losing ground; soil and earth hook line and sinker. And the rainwater has nowhere to go because the Pride of Madras, Adyar River has been serenaded into slush… thanks to the land-lubbing greed of the Realty. And the sea has grown sick of coming back inland even on Full Moon these days, what is left of the River has gone bone-dry on days when it is not slushy. Since the birds don’t come anymore to their habitat on the estuary, buffaloes find natural haven! Do ye hear? We have shut the Cooum totally and now are slowly killing Adyar water-space as well!
Shocking but true! Adyar has become a virtual pond. I had the shock of my life the other day when I saw a herd of buffaloes wading through the Adyar slush towards the stagnant heap of plastics, bottles, covers and god knows what or who else is rotting inside for the last few months. Of course, I am used to the sight of rich people coming in their SUVs and parking it for a few seconds to quickly dump their plastic bags full of garbage into the river, but buffaloes soldiering into the slush of what used to be Adyar River!!! That is the pit of Brand Madras-isation!
I cringe at the possibility of having to cross the Adyar Bridge each day at least thrice and empathize with all those who wear duppatta-balaclava to keep their nostrils from the stench that emanates as you pass by towards the Greenways Road signal. And whose fault is it? Chennai today stands at the edge of a total implosion that we really don’t need any tsunami or earthquake on the Richter of 7 or other natural calamities. We are killing ourselves by hoarding ourselves more and more into our vertical slums. There was a time I used to travel on the ECR and be able to see the sea crystal clear, occasionally impeded by those tall conifers that peppered the sands un-humanised (pardon my painful coinage!). And today? Lines from Yeats’ poem flash across my memory: “The center cannot hold, things fall apart…”. Let’s stop this space-mania and contribute our bit towards creation of little green spaces in the city.
It is a very laudable effort that the previous state government started utilizing wasted spaces in the middle of the trafficked city to create little parks. It is very appreciable that the present government did not think otherwise and continues with those efforts. Let us create soil and earth where we can instead of concretizing and mortaring what is left of the city. Instead of squabbling over to drink Pepsi or not because of pesticides (which anyway comes from the groundwater they use to make these beverages), let us look at the cost we are paying to embrace globalization. We are not only embracing the entrepreneurship of the First World in a hurry to get short-term material benefits, but are also killing our body-clock by working to American and British and Australian time shifts. Let’s get back to our own country and city and in the process restore normalcy of life for both the flora and fauna as well as for us.
Revolutions lead to a change of life, with pain. Evolution is gentle, slow but not painful. Let us learn to take things slow. Let us live by the needs of our local than the requirements of the global. Let us do things one by one, for everything starts at 1 (for it is better to add the zero at the end than at the beginning) and 1 is an individual.
Monday, October 09, 2006
North Korea has timed it to perfection. A classic espionage fiction clincher of a climax it was - their Nuke Test. When the world is too busy concerning itself with the appointment of Ban Ki-Moon, the South Korean for the UN Secy General post, the charge comes.
I am fresh out of an analytical reading of "Brandenburg" by Henry Porter and I am convinced I have perhaps read one of the landmark fictions of all time. It rekindled in me the sights and experiences of the building and atmosphere in Leipzig, Magdeburg, Halle and other erstwhile GDR towns and of my hearsay of their past. I have often heard the old men of the good old commie faith in GDR's socialist system quatsch over their sausages and bier around the hangout kiosks about how the young have become lazy etc etc; I have sometimes wondered when I saw those apparatchik looking women if they were the Büro workers of the past Germany was desperately trying to bury just as they still are trying to dissociate themselves with anything that happened between 1927 and 1945. And the book also showed me a broader spectrum of what it must have been in a socialist state. How many malnourished... how many skeletal lives... how much depression resulting from suppression... well, my manys and muches haven't ceased to exist and they make quite a beeline in the roster! But the point is not that.
Couple with this my media-followings and readings in newspapers and magazines of the new Latin American Left combine, I read a lot more into the fallouts of this Nuke thingie. Let's take a quick check of what has happened and what was observed, shown, commented upon by media and leaders from The Capitol to our own Pranabji and one Mr. Hamid Gul. What does this mean and what does this portend?
First of all, I am all in awe and appreciation of the gumption, the guts and perseverance of North Korea even if I may not be a supporter of a world full of Nuclear Warheads (does not matter who holds them). It just goes out to show if you can have it, so can I. It also points, if you don't use it, I won't. More than that, this has come as a timely shot in arm for Iran's own nuclear ambitions. It has also probably emboldened the stance taken by states (such as Venezuela, Chile, Cuba... ) with legitimate anti-American feelings.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
First, Headlines Today (or was it CNN-IBN?) ran a story on Educated Illiterates or Literate but Uneducated - about how kids at school these days are being dumbed through dumping of information in the name of knowledge so that they get educated, acquire degrees and hit the job market as successful whatevers! But do they really know their math or the three Rs effectively? In the research poll they showed... some of the so called forward states such as Tamil Nadu (ranked 4th) were not so literate inspite of being educated and the traditional boon-dog Bihar was *surprise surprise* one of the top most literate state. What does this show?
And then we had the girls college in Chandigarh in news (is still!). A teacher slapped a girl for using mobile phone in the class. The former defended it is within the spirit and letter of educational institutional law. The girls protested saying they were not anymore in school, but are adults since they are in college. Any logic in that? And the girls won the struggle and used the media to talk about all this even while saying the media blew the issue up and it was essentially an intra-college affair that must have been settled so! What sense??
Of course, we had a Professor in Ujjain being killed by Students! Whither education??? Latest news... the perpetrators have surrendered in police station, meaning which we can deduce they have found someone to bail them out. And 21 more involved people arrested. Does it matter? Did it matter in the case of Stanes or Jessica or umpteen others? This country requires more than 400 Blows.
Then it was the turn of Meerut. Appalling news when we learnt that the University exam papers were routed by the VC of Charan Singh College (or whatever) to be corrected by unqualified, young 5th and 7th grade school students. The students of the college of course protested. But the protest drew shit. And the TV showed three girls (aptly and conveniently) named 3 musketeers jumping the tall iron gates of the VC's house and demolishing and destroying anything in their path ending up with bashing the VC's scooter to smithereens before being taken into custody. It melt my heart with warmth to see one of the girls - Monica - shouting "today his property, tomorrow him!" What love between the educators and the educated!
So where does this all lead to? Shout your piece in the comments!
Oh by the way, did I tell you? There was this other news about an Indian Muslim going to US for MBA via UK, detained at Heathrow!!!
And that still leaves two more education-related incidents to discuss: 1) a minority muslim institution in Kerala - Kozhikode to be precise - refusing the students to celebrate a festival that has been traditionally considered pan-Kerala secular event. Suddenly, in the name of religious sentiments the students of a Muslim college cannot celebrate ONAM in their campus. Stuff and non-sense. 2) BJP warming up to electoral manifestoes for the future - VANDE MATARAM must be sung mandatorily in all schools, colleges and institutions including places of worship, irrespective of religious beliefs! A very honorable motto!! After all, it used to be front runner for our national anthem and perhaps if the Bongs had taken the Prime ministership back then, VM would be sharing podium with JGM for being the National Anthem and India would have been the only country to have two anthems being played. What an aural experience it would have been to hear them at sports championships if we won! Of course, to think what would have happened at the recent SAF Games where we returned with 118 Gold Medals is another conjecture!!!
Fresh from a production of FINAL SOLUTIONS by Mahesh Dattani, it stirs up in me both nationalistic feelings as well as rational based arguments. But since they go also beyond the confines of educational focus, we take these things in a separate post!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
the performance group
an edited dramatized reading in English
Directed by Krishna Kumar. S
Sunday, 27th August 2006 - 7.15 pm
Top Storey, Alliance Francaise
Performance duration – 1 hr. 15mins.
ADMISSION FREE - ALL ARE WELCOME
Join us as we take this opportunity as a farewell token to Mr. Jean-Pascal Elbaz, the Director of Alliance Francaise de Madras.
Directed by Krishna Kumar. S, Masquerade – the performance group brings before you a dramatized reading of one of the watershed plays in contemporary Indian theatre – FINAL SOLUTIONS by Mahesh Dattani – in a gesture of thanks and bidding farewell to Mr. Jean-Pascal Elbaz, Director, Alliance Francaise de Madras, who after his tenure at Chennai, is moving to his next place of office.
The cast for the evening: Mohd. Yusuf, Krishna, Abhinav Suresh, Vandana Rangarajan, Prema Venkat, Tara Raman, Sonali Ranjit, Karan Ram, Abhishek & Nishad.
The performance runs to approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Please visit the show and join us in our farewell gesture. Do spread the word around and bring one and all!
We thank Mahesh for his kind gesture to stage this performance.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
It has been a hectic but very edifying and entertaining day.
A chance brush, strange encounter and amusing meeting is more like what would sum up the day's events.
First I ran into an old-time acquaintance - Uncle Sudhakar as we call him! And what I consider to be finally an encounter with a person - an intriguing artist - whom I have met before thrice, but finally got to spend some serious personal moments with: Valsan Kolleri. Both happened at Lalith Kala Akademi as I went to visit Siva-Benitha-Prasan's exhibition TRILOGY. Some very amusing conversation resulted in disturbing me to think seriously! Valsan is truly a remarkable guy who prefers to create and believes he can't talk, but manages to pour out wise-cracks trois-ed with quick one-liners to quote in an interview as well as ideas that truly ring of seriousness. But more of Valsan and TRILOGY separately later, for they merit separate posts!
SO then... eventually to wind up the day: a call from a journalist friend of mine asking me to land up around 6 pm at The Screening Room, The Park - apparently a debrief meeting between the organisers and participant directors that ended up with more others than directors. One truth rang as I left the discussion which moved stolidly on to its ultimate watering session. For once I played an absolute silent spectator, literally sitting on the peripheries, the virtual last seat. What an Olympian view! But back to the truth before we go into the details: the closing lines from AMADEUS kept ringing in my mind through the d-elevation (going down the elevator from the venue!), "Mediocrity everywhere, I bow to you!" (or something to that effect). I bow not in reverence, but conceding defeat, at the mindset of 'most' gathered there to accept and quit that 'We indeed are celebrating the mediocrity of amateur theatre in Chennai and are content not to raise the bar truly'. I guess the only soul rebelling that refused to accept the concessions was Bala. Hang in there, am really proud to know you!
My question is, like Sunill of EVAM asked, what is the purpose? I ask: If this is a festival, what are we celebrating? Are we trying to do this to promote the theatre culture in Chennai? If so, are we trying to support the groups doing theatre in Chennai? Or are we doing this to raise the critical appreciative standards of the Chennai theatre going audience? If the former, then why this cynicism at local groups. If local groups do not get exposure, then how will they add that extra edge to their work? If they don't get to be featured in a festival of their own city, then who's it for? If they don't brush shoulders in the same festival with so-called qualitative groups from other parts of the country (that are supposedly better), then are they just to be reduced to mere ticket buyers who learn others by watching? I am under the presumption that the the more you do it, the better it gets. Correct me if I am under a delusion! Also, going by the feedbacks about this year's festival, it seems 3 out of 9 shows were rank bad - the firang, the mega-Tantric and the Kolkatta ones, 3 out of the rest 6 were from Chennai and acquitted themselves decently and out of the other 3 two were very commendable. About the Q show I don't have feedback, so I can't write! And this considering none of the 3 Chennai shows had a tech.
If on the other hand, the festival attempts to bring the best of english theatre in India, then the logic must be to provide the audience with quality entertainment on one hand and show them the difference between the good, the bad and the ugly so that the next time they watch a local show they know the difference and hence, we believe, the bar of aesthetics would be raised (if not... at least the aesthetics of their respective bars would be enhanced with better brands of booze!). Anyway, overlooking that unnecessary but irresistable aside, what the audience were treated to was a democratic levelling view of both sides. Going by the feedbacks, the green grass outside the bounds of Chennai theatre also had septic tanks underneath, only the packaging and the gloss kind of made the thought bearable. I guess the whole ferris wheel of the festival is aimed at some other agenda I am unable to fathom. I mean, the chief organisers anyway do not have presence in parts of India where the others came from and do not look to seek presence either. So why? Is this some kind of a masochistic attempt to proclaim the mediocrity of amateur theatre mentality???
The quality dished out only shows that we rank as equally in qualitative amateurishness to other parts of India and that at least we boast of more groups and more active stage-boarders than traditionally theatrical bastions such as Kolkatta where from the only active group had to be invited to complete the zonal quota! Either way, theatre in Chennai doesn't seem to have benefited and if at all anything the festival only brings to surface our embedded cynical attitude at our own selves. I don't blame such an attitude or the carriers of such an attitude. Everyone is entitled to opinions and have the liberty to grumble! We artists have not made any attempts to produce quality that just stuns the organisers into quit inviting outsiders!
One inspired suggestion that came to sort out the quandary we have led ourselves into went like this: combine the best or the cream of Chennai's acting talents, bring an outside director to direct them so that Chennai theatre could produce qualitative work! Are we now conceding our inability to be creative? True, someone remarked, groups won't come together. True true! Because, as I had said elsewhere, there are no groups. What groups? Just fancy names... only banners and brandnames. The oldest group doesn't have an artistic group, but only an administrative body, four ageing actors (the best perhaps in business) and no young artists to lead forward. The youngest group is not able to create fresh artists. And yours faithfully is fighting a losing war to create a recognisably individual identity for myself and my handful of believers. Perhaps the only group that has an identity of its own and manages to do its productions without borrowing heavily (well, we still are at the stage where older age group actors are to be borrowed!) and is self-sustaining is EVAM and kudos to them for that. Leave other things aside for the moment. I have not seen their actor training sessions so I cannot talk of it. In any case, they manage by themselves. And that is one of the hallmark of a group steering towards professional existence. (P.S.: It's not that am suddenly turning pro-Evam or anything, let's just recognise commendable things and criticise opposable things! I would still reserve my opinion on productions!!)
The problem with theatre in Chennai is that groups are mere names with no significant identity of their own. Like I said earlier in another post, one is solo performer, two is partnership, three still doesn't make a group (even if it's idiomatic crowd!). Until we evolve to that stage where groups are identifiable, no definitive style of work would evolve. The reason: if we don't have artists trained in a particular style or belief of acting, there is no individuality to the group. If actors are constantly horsed around fording every stream, they cannot develop acting. They are only moving from director to director, assuming roles and rehearsing lines as a routine. Directors in Chennai must decide to seek identifiable group of actors and work strictly inside themselves in order to evolve a strong approach to acting and performance. And then we would have a body of actors who are literate if not educated, in the essentials of performance. For, every strong performance evolves out of a cultural politics and understanding of the role one is doing and the holistic stance of the work being produced. The success behind OTHELLO by Royston Abel is mainly due to its interpretation. And interpretation cannot occur without analysing the cultural, social and sometimes racial politics. The point about racial politics was so well illustrated by Runa's VALLEY SONG. Of course, on the same count, it was also proved what overturning the fundamental idea behind a play such as MACBETH in order to make it entertaining could lead to! Am not saying this, ask the attendant public!
We all saw what a sad case of adaptation a recent production of BLACK COMEDY turned out to be. Peter Shaffer created the work and the characters out of a cultural milieu and social environment, just as much as AMADEUS was a play about racial discrimination and Germanic inability to accept foriegners. You see, every work stems from a cultural and social standpoint. By just changing the names and the location and moving to Mumbai the show (Black Comedy) elicited mere laughs at some caricatures. That is not respecting the audience. Merely giving them voyeuristic pleasure. So first the directors must show some purpose than just taking up works because it is amusing or witty or appealing to their passionate creative skills. Of course we need not, as directors, foist our process upon the audience. We can continue to produce slapsticks and farces and romantic comedies and entertain the audience and have our cash registers ringing, and can still have our work steeped in a deeper understanding of the needs of theatre. I wonder what it would be if The Theatre wakes up one fine day to confront the doers of theatre in Chennai, in a Pirandellian way! It would really either become Narashimha and tear us apart for the sacrilege we are committing in its name, or pull the cyanide capsule and die! This is why a director is a very critical ingredient in the making of a play.
A director trained (in an institution or auto-didactic doesn't matter!) in the craft and is capable of creating sensitised artists can go a very long way to creating a strong group that believes in its identity (a while back a very active Magic Lantern was just that. Pity they have gone less active!). This in turn can lead into a good production worthy of holding our heads about. It is time-consuming, but we need to build it brick by brick patiently. We need to create artists through training. That day Chennai theatre need not vie with morsels of slots in a theatre festival curated, conducted and organised by local patrons of that selfsame art!
Until then... we keep borrowing and bickering and reduce ourselves to the level of letting ourselves into depths of lack of self-belief. Is this a trip to unite the struggling and in-fighting artists of theatre in Chennai? If we have more than 100 odd people who do theatre in some fashion passion or hobby, can't they be trained? A trained actor is not restricted to roles. An actor who is just doing roles or hop-scotching amid directors and groups is not serious about the work, but is only diluting whatever meaningfulness that exists. Of course, there is nothing wrong in trading horses because most theatre is not livelihood theatre but serious hobby. But then, this can only lead to the status we seem to be in... the status of lack of self-belief to produce a quality work that walks into a festival rather than be condescendingly invited! Not for nothing goes the idiom VANDHAARAI VAAZHA VAIKKUM THAMIZHAGAM (the Tamilnadu that lets others live at the expense of its own!). The need of the hour is to be ourselves and create distinct identities before we even produce... be it good or bad. But who cares, let's fish around, because everyone's around for a good romp. But thanks to the organisers of The Hindu Metro Plus Theatre Festival for bringing outside groups to show us where we stand!
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Now tell me how are you all gonna respond to this! I don't really know whether they are talking about India outsourcing work to other countries? Or they are saying by taking too much work outsourced by other countries we are not focussing on work back here? That sounds illogical. Because anyway they don't work. Someone who is aware of the financial sector please clarify!
The Little Clarification I got from my wife who works in the Insurance sector and specifically deals with the financial and capital market for the Little Shop is this:
1) Internal outsourcing. Example: Citibank outsourcing the maintenance, tracking and collection of Credit Card related issues to local Call Centres
2) Mobile companies outsourcing stuff to Call Centres. Am sure all of us would at some point have received phone from our own respective network where they offer you another airtel/aircel/hutch connection. Stupid. They aren't from the Network Operators, but their little stupid call centres that are tucked in all over chennai. I have visited some of them. It's pathetic how they look. They look like a dunghole of some printing press' cutting section.
3) Companies in the insurance sector outsourcing maintenance etc of bonds debentures etc for backoffice work. Actually there is a mega company in Chennai called CAMS whose main work is handling backoffice work for most of the stock/insurance such like companies. You can imagine the amount of backoffice work required these days and you can imagine how much of outsourcing is required because no company can finish these chores even if they worked dutifully their full 9 hours at 6 days a week and some overtime. Work has got cluttered and unnecessarily complicated in the name of division of labour and creation of employment so much. It is pretty interesting how we are fighting internal outsourcing even while there is such a brouhaha about India as the prime destination of Outsourcing for US and Europe and Australia. India as the key competitor with an English-speaking edge over China etc. Imagine why the foreigners from the respective countries are right about grumbling about some little twerp Indian attending their queries posing as Jill or Bill!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Getting into the Skin
an introduction to acting essentials
May 22 – 30, 2006
10.00 am to 1.30 pm
· Age Requirement: 16 years and above
· Casual and stretchable cotton clothing is mandatory
· No denims nor jeans
· Max. 24 participants only
· Last date for submission 15th May, 2006 (MONDAY)
· For Application Forms & further details email firstname.lastname@example.org
with Subject: "Getting Into The Skin" or call 98840 29865
WORKSHOP DESC. & OBJECTIVE:
"A trained actor can make a huge difference to a production even beyond the director's inputs... Because acting is more a craft than an art"
This is the first workshop that Masquerade brings to a participant outside the repertory. Until 2005, Masquerade has been offering Summer Theatre Workshops solely concentrated on the teens and youth between 13 and 19 years, through Landing Stage Youth Theatre Group. With the need to train oneself as a good actor increasing among the existing young crop of theatre aspirants, Masquerade realises the time has come to open the doors beyond the teen and youth segment.
The Workshop attempts to train anyone who is 16 years and above and is interested in discovering how deep their perception towards acting goes. The workshop would seek to open a whole new way of approaching acting rather than just taking up a role and memorising lines and rehearsing. At the workshop, as a participant, one would get opportunities to play with the given material like a child with a spoon and discover new approaches.
One would get to learn the upkeep of an actor's most precious possession - oneself. One would soon realise the power of the body, the gesture, the space and movements beyond words can explain!
The workshop is contingent to a minimum of 15 participants. Otherwise cancelled. The workshop would be conducted by Krishna Kumar. S & Pritam Chakravarthy.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The following is a translated version of a news item I came across in Rheinische Post, to which I subscribe online. In the light of some comments and discussions we have been having here famously, I thought this news article merits a reproduction (in full as is normal the courtesy to be adhered to when one reproduces something) to show what we are not doing in our own backyard.
I am not speaking thus because am lazy or cannot meet up with the corporates and produce an hour of their own jargonizing… but because we are artists… people who can do what they cannot… people who bring relaxation and refreshment and rejuvenation to their workaholic lives. We must not seek them, they must seek us. If we commercialize art too much to the level of consumerism, the moneyed people would take (and have already started taking) advantage of our position.
If this be today, where do we have time to train new people, whet youth and teens to do the right kind of art? They are uninformed or less informed or misinformed because the informants don’t have a clue about what information to give. If theatre has to get professional, we need to start focusing on our youth theatre scenario, create a cultural climate by catching them in their teens before adolescence over-enthusiasm takes them over to think performance, going on stage and speaking lines and changing colorful costumes and taking curtain calls are the only things that count about theatre.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Ok, off with preludes... this one's about The Bard. About how Indians view him, sycophantically revere him and shamelessly venerate him, putting on the pedestals of academic sanctum sanctorums. He's definitely worth it, I must admit with unabashed submission of my higher cerebral functions to his genius. But do Indians - at least the academia and the macademia, literati and the cognoscenti, glitterati and the media-tors - know The Real Bard? Do the teachers teach The Real Shakespeare? I doubt it.
Like Wordsworth, Shakespeare is the most abused among poets of any age, clime or culture. They are taught for all the wrong reasons. Poetry, lyrical qualities, rhyme, meter... Stuff and non-sense. I don't say these don't exist in their works. But the way academics and teachers make it look or sound, it is as though this is the reality. Why? All our teachers are High Priests and Priestesses of the Morality Brigade who have been evangelised to sing Hosannas and shoot roses through the barrels of their guns at prepubescent children, lest they become Romeos and Juliets at 15 and elope. They are self-styled Montagues and Capulets warring against anyone who claim Love is Shakespeare.
I don't want to, given the current scenario, teach Shakespeare in an academic setup and classroom atmosphere. You can't talk about something without touching the root of it. People who would have witnessed the recent Tim Supple's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM would have proofed the pudding. He is raw, war, love, hate, envy, jealousy, fear, tear, lust... Shakespeare is PRIMAL. The man lived such a life. He was a lover, scholar in the learn-by-tribulations mould, philanderer, gay, go for broke stock-trader, struggling two-bit actor... everything that morality brigade would love to sweep under the carpet. And they have. Remember what they taught you in school? Daffodils... The Solitary Reaper... The Trial of Shylock... Caliban and Prospero... anything else? Oh, occasionally they would talk about The Taming of the Shrew because it is all about male chauvinism and sexism of the paternalistic pig variety that shows the conquest of a shrew by a shrew-d guy! But what is the real Shakespeare? The REAL SHAKESPEARE was what a lot of parents who had come (armed with their many children and their 50s University educated Shakespearean poetry and erudition) to watch Supple's Midsummer and walked half-way through at the sight of physicality is all about.
TWELFTH NIGHT: Siblings - Siamese Twins? - get parted in a shipwreck. The girl lands on alien shores. In order to protect her identity (virginity?) she dresses as the page to the Duke of the Island who is in love with a certain Countess Olivia. Soon the page becomes the Duke's confidante and is sent to woo the Countess. The Countess falls in love with the page boy who is actually a woman. The actually a woman page-boy hermself (term courtesy Sarah Kane, "4.48 Psychosis") is secretly in love with Duke. Meanwhile there is Malvolio - the dirty old Puritan who is all passion and love inside - desires the Countess, his Mistress. Uncle Toby to Count Olivia is secretly pimping his niece to the moneyed ass Sir Andrew Agueface... and also desires the governess Maria of the house. What do we have? A story of love, lech and cross-dressing. But what do the schools and colleges teach? Iambic Pentameter and Poetry.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: A certain Duke has vanquished the Queen of Amazons and brought her as booty to swive her botty. A father wishes his daughter on his favourite man. The daughter is in love with another MAN. Another girl is in love with the father's favourite man who has already swived her botty too much. And the paternalia decrees she either turns her rich flower of virginity to the father's favourite man or turn in the direction of the convent to perhaps find a Holy Father who shall probably pass Holy Water before he shows the Holy Spirit! And the besotted lovers flee, the beseeching lovers pursue. In the forest, under the moonlight, on a full moon day, infested with fairies and magic flowers with potions amorous they meet. Meanwhile the Fairy God and his Fiery Feisty Queen are at loggerheads over a boy. Oberon is a Bugger, Titania's little boy is being sought by Obi to be swived in HIS BOTTY! Gosh. Obi lulls Tit-ania into swyving with an ass... The greatest interpretation came from Jan Kott the Polish critic, I think. The scene where Titania stands behind Bottom, one-leg astride on the front of Bottom's torso and another behind, her betweens crushing the back of his neck even while she goes orgiastic over his two ears (it's all graphically in the script if you read between the lines), all the dirty faeries encircling... it is straight out of Mozartian excesses in bordellos of Vienna and Italy. Or is it the reverse? Anyway, in the Elizabethan England, Ass's head was considered a phallic symbol of plenty. So what do we have in MSND? And what of Puck? Whose lover is he? And what are we taught? Iambic Pentameter (Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania) or philosophic poetry (The course of true Love ne'er did run smooth). The only scenes any school chooses to perform on annual days or inter-house dramatics are the Puck scenes while the *uck scenes are cautiously expurgated.
ROMEO AND JULIET: Two star-crossed lovers in their 15s and 16s, at the heights of hormonic explosions, forbidden by the respective families to seek each other because of a family feud, try to elope because the itch overcomes all. Qayamat se Qayamat tak? And what are we taught? R&J is a sweet play about love and romance and hence of superior poetry. Well, love and romance leads to children not only to poetry!
THE TEMPEST: A Banished Duke who's also a magician lures his callous brother and his men to the island in which he has taken refuge. The Ruse? He makes his naive daughter fall in love with his brother's son. What are we taught? The Magic of Will's Poetry, the silliness of Caliban, the naughtiness of Ariel.
Poetry is Direct Emotional Response
So... What Must Be:
Use Shakespeare to show kids how not to be stupid like R&J, how not to get desperate like Orsino and Viola, how to be smart like Portia, how to be human like Shylock, how to enjoy life like Falstaff, how not to be obsessively stupidly Tamil TV Serial-ish like Helena, how not to be Puritanically living a shadow life like Malvolio, how not to be psychologically defeated like Macbeth (hmmmph! that is the last straw. The guy is so dumb. He believes Witches and doesn't even realise that Conundrums and Riddles and Oracles are ambivalent. He must have read ANGELS AND DEMONS before getting scared of Birnam Woods to Dunsinane come! And what of Caesarian? Macbeth is dumb and dumber!), how not to go ego-massaged like Richard II with the caterpillars of his commonwealth, how not to suck up to your loyalty for two brothers as in As You Like It... and HOW TO BE STOICAL LIKE FESTE (my fav character in all of the Bard's creations!) You think I can impart all these to students inside a classroom without spelling out the intricacy of the web The Bard weaves?
Teachers, leave them kids alone... and away from William Shakespeare. Go teach Robert Frost.
I don't know how much the current generation of teens and youth out there remembers, poetry or not. After all, this is an age of Memory Chips and 100+ giga inexpensive hard-drives. So save as much as you can. Even dedicated drives for downloaded DivX movies. Ek Dum!
When I was a kid, there used to be this scheme run by the government to encourage savings at a young age, called Sanchayika, whereby your schools used to run a sort of Savings Bank and each child could credit to his/her account even 5 paisa - each day or whenever possible. And we were proud owners of pass books. When I quit school, from 7th std until 10th, I had saved 32 rupees painstakingly over 4 years and to receive it as hard cash!!! Rs. 32/- in 1981. How much is it worth now?
Well now, am not talking of that savings.
Save to Memory. The watch word of the day.
And thus computer does make Hoarders and Packrats of us all!
So, everything is available on the World Wide Web. There is no need to write notes, buy bazaar guides, burn midnight oil at the 11th hour. Visit one of the many essay and guide sites dot com and search and save.
In absolute contrast to the Nazi burning of the books where the watch word was "Search and Destroy", now we are witness to the age of Search and Save. In either case, we spare the world of paper. Thus Nazis and We are both contributive in our own ways to Save Trees, Conserve Ecology and all that jazz!
As an extension, we spend more and more time on the WWW. As a natural extension we start living out our lives in front of the Computer more than in real-time. Leaving aside the fact that we now consume more hydel energy instead of Bagasse, communication, exchange of messages, emails, opinion sharing all happen in this P2P world of give and take. I am going out there one of these days and go on a Friends of IPO (IPO Bachao Andolan) a-la Medha Patkar. May be I'll go on fast and get Saif 'Cyrus' Khan to endorse and probably have his movie banned at our own Q IS DEAD MOVIES!
I read the other day that postmen who used to go door to door to deliver post and parcels, of late have also started carrying stamps, money order forms et al so that now they are mobile post offices of the minidor sort. Yes, now that courier deliverers have taken over going door to door to deliver posts and packets and parcels, IPO-men have to move on. IPO ya BPO - ay, there's the rub! So anyway, these poor souls have no raison d'etre anymore. Even worse, no one writes to the postmen anymore. And the Postman Doesn't Even Knock Once.
Blame it all on the blog!
I must be getting past that age when I can't consider myself eligible anymore to be in the youth age-group. The newspapers who write about theatre in Chennai have done away with the youth tag on me. There are real youths (I mean 18 and 19) getting into theatre. My early theatre days was like the English cricket team of about until 5 years back. The average age of a theatre youth would be mid-20s. Chennai Theatre scenario isn't so anymore, it resembles the youth world of American tennis (15s and 16s), although the English Cricket team seems to be cruising on the mid-20s aver-age mode as ever (else how do you account for Shaun Udal!). So, forget me. Move on to real youth.
The youth seems to have its own ways, as it always have been through the ages. Except, we are entering or have already entered an absolutely new hi-fi age where high infidelity and low fidelity rates in relationships are the norms. But we are not talking that either. We are talking about the habits of keeping unearthly hours.
I normally fuzz out at 11.45 the latest in the night. Times were I used to crawl home at 2.20 and 3.10 am on my Titan Dial with an array of smells in my breath, enough to make the Fragnipanis and Baldinis of the world go dizzy with envy. Not any more. I cop out at 11.45 PERIOD
And the next morning I get up early (which is about 6ish) to check my mails (lest there are heavy downloads on my mail, since I belong to the primitive civilisation of Dial-up users) and surf the net for info I seek for any writing projects of mine. And what do I find? The comments to posts on some of the blogs I visit as well as the posts themselves bear the stamp of Interstate 1.00 am-ish to 3.00 am-ish. I got piqued and asked couple of my young gen acquaintances in theatre.
Well, apparently around 2.00 am is the time of maximum DivX Downloads since the broadband is relatively faster then. So while a six-hour download starts its life, the surfers all commune at the bloggers park and start posting and commenting.
It's Darkness in the Junge, Listen to the Night!
Wow! Who would have thought that a country that two decades back was pronounced as backward and developing and conservative as it went to sleep by 9 pm to wake up and start its day at 4.30 am to the sounds of cows named Radha and Lakshmi swinging their heads as they chaffed at the fresh grass, would today go to sleep at 4 and 5 am!! Who would have thought that a country divided by the plates that unite Vindhyas underground would get together in the night. After all this is the country that got its Freedom at Midnight!!!
And then there is Call Centre! So what's so unique about Call Centre life anymore. I scoff at all these yuppie Call Centre folks when these days they come and strut about their night life. I hear you Chetan, we are in sync. The whole nation is anyway awake and that is a whole new world, brave or not. We have started working and communicating and now even conversing to Western Time Zones.
What happened to the good old real-time meetings among friends and common-interest groups? What happened to all those days of arguments and debates and exchange of ideas and trading of opinions and formation of hypotheses over coffees and pakoras at Debate and Poetry and Literary Clubs? Everything happens on-line.
Coffee is Passe and Latte is In!
Even neighbours seem to communicate either through phones or emails. I mean, the traditional description of a neighbour is a person who lives next door. And even if Indians don't anymore live in wall-sharing street-houses, we all live in neighbouring flats. How can two neighbours who share the same floor of the same block of the same apartment complex not open the door in real-time and walk across to each other's interior to say something?
This incident happened to my brother, am not joking. My brother had gone to his headhunter at Bangalore to attend his overseas interview calls as he was poaching for a job to get back to US after a couple of year's break. Obvious, it was a call center. And he was attending interviews. According to records and some sidewinding done by his B'lore companpy, he was supposed to be attending an interview call from Nebraska or wherever. They do it regular if you didn't know. That's how Indian placement guys operate. You give them a CV they forward another to their headhunting clients... further doctored needless to say. In the first place, most of the job-seekers themselves partially doctor their CVs to reflect the latest in CSHARPs or DOTNETS or whatever, and show the most recent employment as until the other day even if they were not employed until the other decade!
So, coming back... suddenly the guy at the other end, apparently his prospective employer, interviewing him gets a bit fishy and decides to probe. Actually you're sitting in India right? Haaarrummmph! Well... things kind of work out! The thing in my brother's favour was that at least he was not putting up accent or disproving he's Indian who used to be Murugan or whatever turned Mark or whatever! And then he happens to adjourn to a near-by eating joint! Wonder of wonders... he runs into someone with whom he starts chatting to while time away... and that guy narrates the story of how he was sitting in a Bangalore Call Centre and happened to interview a guy who's supposed to be in Nebby or someplace... No joking, this happened a bit recently! So... we've reached a stage in the drainpipe where two guys sit in the same Indian town and behave like both are in another western country and interviewing each other! I SALUTE THE CONTEMPORARY FIBRE OPTIC INDIAN PREDICAMENT! What shall I say?!? That was just an example what we are leading ourselves into.
The cutting edge age of bytes mega and giga
We are witnessing - and some out there are being part as well of - a generation that has become unable to structure their thoughts seriously enough that they have started speaking in monosyllabic "Hey" or bi-syllabic "Howdy" (now that comes from Frontier Westerns originally) or "Hey You" or even better "Sup?" or "Wussup dude" irrespective of the gender of the addressee or addressant or whatever s/he is! And we have become inept in communicating spontaneously not because of our lack of language tool, but because we are losing touch with reality. We need to constantly update ourselves about what's up in the world of current affairs or movies or music or books only because the next time we visit any blog we need to be able to participate and leave comments so as not to make a total turd of ourselves. Who cares? No one even knows whether you visited or not. As the used to say in the Frontier West days... "If you don't leave yore corral, yore hoss don't leave no trail, sabe?" But we have also become info-exhibitionists that we feel impelled to impress others with our knowledge that was probably acquired as a result of nethunting for info on Wiki or Rottentomatoes or NYT or Salon.com or wherever just a couple of minutes back after reading other's comments. And so the bangwagon of insecure generation rolls on!
Was it Robert Frost who said, "Poetry is what gets lost in translation"? If that, and as a natural extension this current gen is Poetry as it is getting lost in translation from real-time to blog-time, then am I witnessing Poetry in Motion? With too much of verbal diarrhea, it is probably a bit too loose motion. And they now even have a new terminology based on blogging that should anytime get into the dictionary.
BLOGGER CANDIDATE. That's how TIME described a certain IRAQ War veteran who returned home and was spurred by a politician friend of his to run for the Democrats in the election. The candidate spoke about all things that never would mean anything in realtime to the voters. And he got outdone by a traditional Senator candidate from the same county because he knew the reality. That's what it is. Blogger Candidate. Too much of attitude and too little REAL info. How much of info that is being exchanged on the blog really is useful? "Well, it gets people to know each other better... these little little exchange of opinions". So what're you going to do? Is this a sort of about to be married candidates prospecting each other? Beat it!
Arre... wah wah... new to Blogging? Welcome to Blog World (or like I leave as my housewarming comment, W2BW).