AK's Various Thoughts - A September to remember

SEPTEMBER HEAT

It took me frightfully long to write this article. I hold Twitter responsible for that. I signed up recently, to promote our plays, but then got hooked, and fell for the ‘streaming of consciousness’. As such, I now think only in terms of 140 characters, and no more. So an article suddenly feels like a novel in comparison.

I first wrote: “Sept – Saw Lpuke, BISK. Tintin closed. Rehearsed SHE. Bro did Guy Thing. 96 guests! Congrats KK, Khat, DOT for NSD Fest. Waiting for WITS”

Then just as I was about to send it in, I did a check for typos and realized that I didn’t understand parts of it myself. So here’s the elaborate, comprehensible version.

Early in September I watched a couple of plays. First up, I saw the Indian adaptation of Duncan Sarkies’ Lovepuke, a quirky play about love, sex and relationships. It played to a packed house at NCPA Experimental, to an audience with a relatively new profile. When I walked into the foyer, I thought I had walked into Blue Frog, with brighter lighting. But seriously, the who’s who of the Todi Mills compound was there, watching. I suppose it had something to do with the cast, led by Imaad Shah, quite popular for his gigs in that pin code. The play featured some strong performances, especially by Karan Pandit and Tariq Vasudeva. And both these boys are somehow, coincidentally, in the next play I’m directing! (The ‘coincidence’ part is being questioned because rumour has it that they were cast by me two days after I watched this play.)

Next, I saw the recent blockbuster of the stage, Bas Itna Sa Khwaab, starring Shefali Shah. Yet another packed house, which one doesn’t see often at Manik Sabhagriha. I had a good, engrossing evening. The play is a very interesting take on Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” but uses that as less of a source and more of a starting point. Very strong performances across the board, including Akvarious regulars Adhir Bhat and Abir Abrar. Some great dramatic moments in the play, but my favourite was when I turned around to look at the audience at one point, and saw transfixed men and copiously weeping women all over. There it is ladies and gentlemen. The strength of the medium.

In other news:

The Adventures of Tintin, our latest (and rather successful children’s play) got shut down by the Herge Foundation in Brussels. Apparently the same fate befell a London Tintin production a few years ago. Some complicated rules about the author’s estate. I don’t see how one can trust a trust.

After some rigorous rehearsal, our first devised piece ever, Second-Hand Emotions opened at Prithvi. (Look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devised_theatre. I did.) There’s a line in the play – “You’re a strange creature. A puzzle, one might say.” This probably best describes the play too. And it is said by a character who is ferociously attracted to a woman, but can’t understand her. Similarly, a large number of people enjoyed the play, used the word ‘mesmerizing’ a lot, but didn’t fully fathom it. That is, as they say, the nature of the beast. The interesting part for me really is the process in this kind of piece. It is always evolving. And I suppose it will continue to do so.

We also had shows of A Guy Thing, with some new cast members, and a new opening act called #309 by Michael Puzzo (the playwright of A Guy Thing), which went down very well, especially with young audiences. A hilarious ten minute piece about two hardcore comic book fans in a comic bookstore, it was performed ably by Divyang Thakkar and Siddharth Kumar (who is one man that needs to do theatre full time, for our sake). One of the replacements in the cast of the main show was my brother, who must have done something good out there, because 96 of his friends came to see the last show. 96! And young, thus the best audience for the play. And he was shattered and apologetic about 3 dropouts. I’m not sure I know 96 people to begin with.

Congratulations to Zero Theatre and the team of Dreams of Taleem, Q Theatre Productions and the team of Khatijabai of Karmali Terrace, Aranya and the team of Park, and T-Pot and the team of Kumbh Katha, for being selected for the NSD theatre festival in January. Mumbai theatre will be pretty well represented, I dare say.

The papers said that last month was one of Mumbai’s hottest Septembers already. And October isn’t looking too friendly. So while the concept of walking in the sun doesn’t seem inviting, I’m bloody excited about Sunil Shanbag’s latest play, Walking to the Sun. I’ve only seen photos, and I’m charged. Coming soon to Prithvi. So brave the heat and book early. I vouch for the Prithvi air-conditioning. And anyone who has any sense would vouch for the quality of Sunil Shanbag’s work.