Bhagirathi Raman who was a stage hand when Khatijabai toured Chennai in August, recounts the experience.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Not only does theatre have all the cons of being an unfixed source of income, it has actually managed to pick the worst fixed-source-of-income job characteristics and turn itself into a masochist’s dream. Which all adds up to, amongst so much more - no insurance, no security, horrid pay, shitty hours, exhaustion, back, knee, mindbrain problems, and not a financier in sight. Ever.
And yet, we keep coming back. Or in some cases, have just never left. Survival instinct. Balls.
I’d like nothing more than to spend the next 600 words explaining dreams.
But seeing that it’s been over 110 years and far too many crackpots and couches since Freud, maybe that topic is best tagged ineffable.
However, the “no financier in sight. Ever.” part calls for a rumination on planning shows. This leads us to a sharp intake of breath when talking of a festival with moolah: Thespo.
No, not really. The Hindu Metro Plus Theatre Festival.
This year, QTP’s very own Khatijabai of Karmali Terrace was invited to perform at the MPTF held in Chennai, on August 13th 2010. When opportunity rat-a-tat-tats, it is extremely prudent to open doors AND make arrangements for cross ventilation. Therefore, consecutive shows were immediately set up at RS in Bangalore for the 14th and 15th of August with the moolah generated through MPTF 13th.
Welcome then, to three back to back days of theatre, in two different cities and four consecutive shows. All planned keeping opportunity in mind. Because everything else just requires a twistnturn to snugly fit in.
Unless it involves the draping of a sari.
Backbone Toral left on the 9th. She would undeservedly be missing the 25th show of Khatijabai.
Only four people could be carted to Chennai: Actor, Director, Lights, Person Who Helps With Sari and Searches For Furniture. KBKT amongst other things includes a horse shoe table in 4 parts with 8 legs, as part of set furniture.
Another monologue was to follow KBKT. Lights had to be figured out quickly and blocked before a funny man sitting on a chair and getting up only to take a bow, swallowed 5 profiles.
Lights. It’s Chennai. Everyone mostly speaks Tamil. The one person on the crew who was culturally programmed to speak Tamil, couldn’t. Made for morbid humour while rigging and set up till 6am. On the day of the show.
KBKT has one actor on stage wearing a sari. No costume changes.
Draping a sari is not rocket science. Unless you’re culturally programmed to speak Tamil and can’t.
There are too many confused platforms at Chennai station. And two many similarly named trains. Especially when one has to bolt straight from backstage to the station after hurriedly packing in a mousey quiet environment while funny man on a chair was talking. This includes that horse shoe table in 4 parts with 8 legs.
Bangalore has very nice weather that’s very good for the soul. This is not an unfortunate event.
Another crew member was welcomed on board. Yay.
Interestingly, this person was culturally programmed to speak Kannada, and spoke a bit, but not enough to cut back on the extra cheese the coolie was charging.
Producer was having a mighty laugh amid bouts of existentialist palpitations.
Electricity: on again, off again.
Thespo orientation: where are all those India shining young people anyway?
The last minute of the KBKT monologue. It’s been built up well. It would end on a good note of intense.
Event before the last
Long long long conversation at the end of the rainbow. Like a Lights person said, a trip like this is never complete without such conversations.
Such an end is bland without all the events leading up to it.
This is unfortunate for the back, knee, mindbrain and lack of insurance cause, maybe this is why we keep coming back. Or in some cases, have just never left. Survival instinct. Balls.
Excess luggage on the way back for some parties involved. Maybe boobs and a nice smile next time guys.