Theatrically speaking, the July that has just passed us was made noteworthy by two events - the Motley festival at Prithvi and the opening of a new children's play by our group.
I personally believe the former was a shot in the arm for the Mumbai theatre scene. Two weeks of widely varied shows, completely packed, despite the onslaught of a rather unfriendly monsoon. It took on the nature of a genuine theatre ‘event’, with people flocking to Janki Kutir everyday, hoping against hope for some last minute cancellations in the shows that were sold out a week in advance.
I was personally affected most by two revived productions – The Caine Mutiny Court Martial and Waiting for Godot – because they were both integral parts of my formative years. I remember watching them (or rather, my father in them) as a child. I even had the privilege of playing The Boy in some shows of Godot, back when I was cute. And thin. Images of the earlier versions have been forever imprinted in my mind, and memories of the same have been most fond. Watching them now, again, brought it all back. I guess age also helped me understand / appreciate them more, especially Godot, which for the record, is an unbelievably difficult play to pull off, and requires unhealthy amounts of commitment, focus, energy and lunacy.
Now on to the new children’s play that we opened not so long ago. Affirming my family’s undying love for the theatre, after thirty long years of avidly watching theatre of all kinds, my mother decided to finally direct a play. And as is advisable for all directorial debutantes, the play she was to direct had content that was impossible to adapt for the stage, a cast of only 25 people, intricately choreographed dance sequences, half a million props and lots of cross dressing.
However, as these things tend to, it all kind of worked out in the end. And only the immediate family of the humongous cast ensured fairly large audiences. So yes, a valuable addition to our repertoire. Our twentieth production, in fact. (How often does one get a chance to gloat in print? Especially if you discount Facebook.) Meanwhile, my mother seems to have been bitten by the bug. She is thinking in terms of her next. Inexplicably, however, she now wants to do a play with not more than three people set in just one location. Strange.
I think it must be said that I’m writing this article in only the sickly white light of my laptop, as I sit in darkness, backstage at Prithvi, as the second show of one of our productions unfolds. It’s meant to be a comedy, and this is a good place to gauge how funny the paying audience is finding it, without having to watch it again. Or operate sound. Not to mention the advantages of having female cast members change their costumes around you, under the impression that you’re working. Anyhow, all perversions aside, the point of this paragraph is to underline, ever so subtly, how committed I am to the cause. Can’t get any more ‘theatrically speaking’ than this, can you?