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Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Lab for the Future of Theatre for Children and Youth

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.
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Düsseldorf (dto). “We only want to play!“ is the title of the 22nd N(orth) R(hine) W(estphalian) Children’s and Youth Theatre Seminar that is happening this Saturday (Apr 29) in Düsseldorf. The future of youth would be thematised in the form of several seminars, theatre performances, and discussions. The campaign is supported by Artistic Director Sönke Wortmann and the Junior Soccer Team of Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Theatre artists across the entire NRW are currently experimenting with the Language, Presentation, and Aesthetics in the area of contemporary theatre for children and youth. The proposed project revolves around a sensory Culinary Experience of the stage, movement in public space, the “aimless idling in an empty space”, fairy tales, Biblical stories and societal changes. Three public seminars with their focal points on the themes “Economising of Living Conditions,” “Attitudes of Generations” and “Images of Cultural Hostility” are the crux of this Lab about the Future.
The official festive opening takes place in Düsseldorf on Sunday (Apr 30). The key figures of attraction include the main patron of this event Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff, Heinz Winterwerber (Mayor of Düsseldorf), Wolfgang Schneider (President of the International Union for Children’s and Youth Theatre), Artistic Director Sönke Wortmann, Theatre author Lutz Hübner, Felicitas Loewe (Chief Dramaturge of the Theater Junge Generation [Theatre of the Young Generation] in Dresden) and Film director Rolf Losansky; the high point would be the appearance of the Youth Soccer Team of Fortuna Düsseldorf.
On the opening night on April 30, the currently running theatre production “The Last Show” would be performed. The musical play deals with Performance Pressure and the cult of Beauty Obsession, and is aimed at 14+ age group. In the following five days, there would be further performances at Datteln, Bonn, Cologne, Essen, Moers, Hagen, Gelsenkirchen, Bad Münstereifel und Oberhausen.
On the last day of the seminar, May 5, all the projects at the Lab for Future would be brought before public as open performances at the Children’s and Youth Theatre space. In every room and corner these artistic experiments would be exhibited. The audience would be able to go through the entire theatre house and meet finally at the main auditorium. The 22nd N(orth) R(hine) W(estphalian) Children’s and Youth Theatre Seminar would eventually conclude with a prize distribution.
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What is happening in Chennai in theatre in general is: people are doing too much arbitrary performance work and unnecessarily putting pressure on each other by raising the commercial stakes. One might say that we need to be really extra-sensory with sponsors. This is my take. From “beggars for sponsorship” days we have just progressed to “glorified beggars for sponsorship.” By pushing ourselves unnecessarily into packaging and project proposals and statistics and presentations of power-points in cds and laptops, we are moving theatre into an unrequired area of management culture.

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.
I shall explain: if you looked at it, because people come to watch us perform, the product owners have a direct marketing reach through theatre. One might claim that there is more mileage in an ad in The Hindu because it reaches so many million people. One might claim that there is so much visibility in airing a video ad. True and false. Truth be told, advertisement only proposes to campaign, doesn’t promise to sell. And when has advertisers actually come to our doors asking us to buy. Those are the salesmen. So what guarantee is it that the ads are being noticed? Not every ad. Touch your heart and tell me: do you really go through all the ads in the daily each day… or collect each and every sheet that is tucked into your newspaper? You shake them off and read the news item! Whereas in theatre the visibility is concentrated and high. So, theatre has a better reach and power of sustenance. As a result we must be approached where we quote the price, not us approaching. We push ourselves to unnecessary desperation when we don’t need to. When so much theatre is happening and so many people watching theatre than before, corporates and product owners must consider it a privilege to reach out to their public through us.
How the hell does this relate to this post? I hear you! If we spend half our time on packaging and another quarter on publicizing the show, where is the time to produce meritoriously? Add to it, we are so bifurcated and divided that no three groups have identifiable incumbency of more than 3 people. So where is the question of having separate units inside the company that takes care of admin, tech, management, logistics and artistic areas? The same person has to do everything. That definitely brings down the quality and quantity of time one could put at rehearsals. And we are perennially producing and performing that we are not replenishing ourselves with newer ways of performing. As a result art is no more fresh. Just commoditised package of laughter or drama or musical!
Instead, we must stop spending too much time on chasing sponsors, start doing shows and more shows within given resources. If the quality of the story-telling is good, what need for people to notice the costume one wears or the colour filters one uses to wash the backdrop or the quality of the sets and backdrops? What did our forefathers rely on? Body, voice, gestures, movements, and playing space! But today all is topsy-turvy. Actor has vanished. Performer has been closeted, theatre has been pushed to background, and instead the proletarian need for crass entertainment has taken over the minds of those who do theatre more than those who come to watch. As a result we are giving stupid stuff that would safely meet the footfall requirement of the sponsor. The sponsor has stealthily started deciding what we do. It must stop!

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.
Now of course, there is this new found craze to do backstage… it means, less rehearsal time, more dating opportunities and getting drunk at cast parties at someone else’s expense. Of course, there are some cast parties that don’t happen or happen late or tepid or insanely boring, where you're even required to come in dress codes. But that’s not in our purview. The long and the short of the matter is we are losing the happiness of doing theatre and falling prey to bureaucratic work patterns rather than artistic passion.
What must happen in Theatre in Chennai:
People must speak honestly and work with integrity. One can be truthful and honest and yet carry on with life. After all, we come from the great country which bore the great person who said: “Hate a person’s action, not the person” – Mahatma Gandhi. I am sure we are all capable of speaking our minds. Except, we speak it only when we have decided we are ready to lose something. We must speak and act truthfully to retain a thing for its real value. WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS MORE HONESTY WITH OUR ART, MORE INTEGRITY TO OUR WORK AND MORE SELF-RESPECT. And we must develop the strength to say no to any and every work. More than work, we must stop encouraging passers-by with desultory attitude to someone else’s production money by refusing to work with them whether in our own shows or someone else’s.
That is the statement for the season.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Free Willy or What You Will or What Will Really Is!

P.S: This post has been necessitated by a little exchange of comments to the previous post between Srini and myself. What started as a small exchange about favourite Romantics ended in this. I always knew this one was coming some day, because it has been occupying my mind for a long while now, only it needed the right stimulus, I guess!

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.

What is:

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.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: Ah, the teachers can heave a sigh of relief here. Safest of all Shakes. Because it is about Shylock's greed. Jew Bashing. Adolf would have been proud of the Arya Varga. How we assassinate Shylock's character. What do we have against Jews? Steve, you hearing? You must not shoot Munich, you must come here and do a Chennai. Sue the academics Steve, they are bashing Jews in the name of teaching Literature. Awright, shucks folks, I got a little sentimental there. Getting back... what do they teach MoV for? The Case of the Correct Casket... the Ingeunity of Portia... the True Friendship of the Genteel Males. You tell me! What of Jessica's lust? What of Portia's love? What of the basic servant's Love of Nerissa? What of dear Launcelot Gobbo? They don't talk about all that. The ship that sunk is more important in MoV than the ship that sunk carrying Kate Winslet and Di Caprio, man.!
Academia Nuts Tutty Frooty Fortune Cookie Harlequin Romance Mill & Boon (oh, I was just swearing folks!)
Listen, I don't want to make this post long because 1) it's already long and 2) the damn Will, Willy, Billy fella has written close to forty plays and hundred and bloody odd sonnets all about a certain Dark Lady who many infer actually to be either his Duke friend or De Vere or some such guy. Why am I not quoting the exact figures. Well, I know the precise number of plays and sonnets, but do we need those little details? Hardly the point of this post is it?
You explore the story of the rest of the plays and their intricate complex web of plots including KING LEAR with his excessive love for his three daughters at his old age and of PERICLES and TITUS ANDRONICUS who have other human aspects of their own, and come to a conclusion what Shakespeare is all about. And without explaining the varied richness of the tangles of emotions that are involved in Shakespeare how can one explain his poetry? Because Poetry at the very least is emotion recollected (read transcribed) in tranquility. At its best is the expression of man's innermost stirring of heart and feelings evoked in response to an event of happening.

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.

Postman Nevermore Knocks Twice.... - HEY MY 50TH POST

"Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life," said William Hazlitt.

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 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).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three @ Twenty

Are you a playwright? And most playwrights are closet playwrights till they get read in public, because a play's not a thing... like they usually say. It is something to be lived, loudly read, performed (better still!). So if you have been doing some writing and being an Emily Dickinson, quietly hiding away your stuff... or if you know people FROM CHENNAI (on priority) and perhaps others who were from Chennai and working elsewhere or have migrated (all we need is a tenuous Chennai link)... spread the word.
REALLY S P R E A D the WORD. Masquerade is looking for new and exciting (young or old) talents who could write plays. We will give you a reading. Mail us at with details, script whatever!


Thanks and cheers