Ak's Various Thoughts

AUGUST RUSH


August began rather auspiciously. On the first day of the month, a new production opened to packed houses. The opinion of the experts, however, is that the reason for that was not the goodwill or reputation or following that Akvarious Productions has earned, but the fact that the two handsome (or was it cute?) men in the play are the closest we have to theatre pin-ups. And someone leaked the news that one of them actually takes his shirt off during the play, which apparently also helped greatly. Be that as it may, I did actually meet people who thoroughly enjoyed the play per se, and the set, and the lighting design, and the performances. But then again, they were all male. The women were mostly gushing unintelligibly, or being coy. One was crying, like a crazed Beatles fan. And all this after a play called A Guy Thing. Irrespective of the commercial or critical future of this production, I do believe it has the potential to start many gender-based demographic discussions.


A week later, after more than a month of fierce publicizing, A Disappearing Number opened at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA. A production by Complicite, a UK based Theatre Company, the play is directed by Simon McBurney, himself an Olivier-award winning actor, recently seen in Body of Lies and as the not so nice Father Tancred in Robin Hood. Anyhow, opening night was a star studded extravaganza with no place to move in the noisy foyer. But once finally inside, 1500 people watched, quietly (perhaps somewhat dumbstruck), as the stunning production unraveled. Massive moving sets, lots of information, multiple projections, expertly timed set changes and sound cues, a script that shuttled back and forth in time, and a handful of highly competent actors taking the audience through it all. And at the helm, the man who, among many other things, is the voice of Kreacher in the Harry Potter movies!


A week later, I went as an actor to Chennai for the Hindu Metro Plus Theatre Festival and came back pretty impressed. It had found the right balance between being a high-profile, serious theatre event with quality programming, and having the spirit and chutzpah of a college festival. I may also be just a tad biased because they put us up at The Park which had a breakfast buffet to die for.


Towards the end of the month, a bus full of actors that should have gone to Shutter Island, went instead to Symbiosis College, Pune, to expose the students to the work of some master playwrights. The unobtrusive philosophy of Stoppard engaged them, all the Pinteresque things in the piece by Pinter befuddled and disturbed them, the quaintness of Coward seemed to entertain them, and Kaufman’s poker faced humour brought the house down. A minority, that was yet to attain puberty, found the concepts of torture and heartbreak giggle-worthy and cheered for the torn clothes of a rape victim, but were silenced by the disapproval of the majority, which to my mind is a good sign. Later, we were surprised to see a large number of students rush backstage to meet the cast. I followed, curious about their feedback, and looking for some discussion, but found that they had recognized a cast member from Peepli Live and wanted photographs with her. I smiled, and started packing the props.