Tag Archives: Bangalore

Debut

11 May

For the first post on this blog are a couple of thought provoking things I came across recently; one in a conversation and the other through experience.

While this blog is to help develop my skills in theatre appreciation and critique through reviews of productions, scripts and thoughts on all things theatre; I leave this blog to assume whatever form it takes on as time passes by.

I am currently based out of Hyderabad. A city well known for its Dum Biryani (induced girths etc), Pista House Haleem, Hotel Shadab, spicy Andhra cuisine, Hand churned ice-cream and pearls.  The British Cantonment area with its colonial architecture where a young Churchill was once stationed, the Ronald Ross institute where the seeds for malaria’s cure were sown, the Buddha Statue on Hussain Sagar and a one-man museum collection from across the globe at Salar Jung Museum. A Persian princess or two, the Nizams, the central university, Chowmoholla and Falaknuma Palaces, the bazaars of old city, and much, much more. Phew. Also, a plague of coaching centres to cater to a morbid obsession its people have towards careers in engineering and medicine.

What it does lag behind probably is on a vibrant cultural scene that exists in other metros. Hyderabad once was a repository for arts and culture, pulsating like Chennai with which its film, music and arts industry was inextricably linked. Within a generation, since the late 80s a sort of ennui set in its peoples’ enthusiasm for the arts. A major contributing factor was the split between the Tamil and Telugu film industries. Much talent migrated or stayed behind in Chennai’s more established cultural milieu. What little continued in Hyderabad: dance and music schools, literature, arts and theatre remains in small, networked circles, within well-guarded pockets of privilege.

In recent years, there has been an outburst of theatre activity drawing in the city’s youngsters. Sparked by this enthusiasm, despite raw and inexperienced productions, older theatre groups in a slumber stirred awake. Hyderabad held a vast Carpe Diem in terms of theatre. It still does. Maybe depending on the established touring theatre companies from other metros was not the only way to experience original scripts or fresh productions of established playwrights abroad anymore in Hyderabad.

What happened however in the course of four meager years was hoarding; of actors, productions, scripts and knowledge. What went missing was amity underneath facades, formation of cliques which inhibit growth; a sort of frog in a well syndrome. Theatre in Hyderabad is also a citadel of certain classes both in terms of audience as well as performers. Good theatre straddles classes. A repository of people from all backgrounds and languages.

For art to flourish and mature, it is of importance to possess goodwill, camaraderie, a welcoming attitude towards new talent and revelation in its discovery. Many of the city’s theatre groups have the proverbial miles to go in this regard and perhaps, never sleep.

In this, I found an encouraging sign in Chennai/Bangalore based Evam conducting workshops while encouraging people to explore theatre and set up their own production houses. A product of their recent workshop was Bangalore’s newest theatre group, The Red Pill, of which a friend is part of. The group stages their new play at Alliance Francaise this weekend and I wish them the best for their debut performance! The play is their production of M*A*S*H by Evam, with added sketches for which Evam reportedly lent much guidance.

The reason behind the group’s name, my friend Shalini said, was a pop-cultural reference to the Matrix series.  And what about “embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality” the red pill indicates? Shalini opened out theatre one more step ahead for me by yielding Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I love acting. It is so much more real than life”. And then she added, “Yesterday we were practicing and someone said something to me and I realized how true it was. He said that I was more “real” on stage than in real life. And it’s true. I feel closer to who I really am while performing”

Couldn’t have put it better. This kind of reality holds true for everything that constitutes theatre. Perhaps, nothing short of coming of age.

Break a Leg, ye all.