10 On Stage Injuries
I write this from the flat of my back. A back injury at rehearsal, causing me to miss the Calcutta show of Project S.t.r.i.p. And while I was horizontal, it also gave me food for thought...what on stage theatre injuries have their been. Here goes:
- Faezeh Jalali in Norway.Today: I have got to start with this one, because I was kind of responsible for it. At the end of ACT I Faezeh and I struggle and she is supposed to fall of the cliff of the 'mountain' and then return at the opening of ACT II. However on one particular show, the dismount off the cliff was ill timed. As a result she landed awkwardly breaking her fore arm. She was still game to do ACT II but one look at the right angled arm and we had to cancel the rest of the show. Eventually a rod had to be inserted to heal it. I think it's still in there.
- Vijay Krishna Acharya in Noises Off: This is part of Bombay's theatre legends. Although Vijay (aka VIctor) is better known as the director of Tashan, he is an avid theatre performer. During a show of Noises Off, he throws a bag to the floor, only to discover that he had dislocated his shoulder. It was panic and horror. Fortunately the understudy, Neil Bhoopalam, was watching the show, and got drafted in. Talk about a football type substitution.
- Teddy Maurya in Ashwa Vishwa: This story is a bit of heresay. Not sure if it happened in this particular production or some other. But as it was told to me it goes like this. THe ever acrobatic, Teddy Maurya made his first entry in the play by running in and jumping of an raised platform, doing a somersault and landing on stage. However during one show, a loose nail was on the stage right at the position where Teddy would land. Worse, the nail was facing upwards. When Teddy landed, he landed flush on the nail, and it embedded in his heel. However without missing a beat he continued his performance which included a vigorous dance. The rest of the cast only found out about the injury once they noticed blood on the stage and back stage.
- Dirk Rodrigues in Brothers: This was an injury that was both funny and serious. Thespo 2000. Just before the end of ACT I, Shaun Williams is supposed to hit Dirk on the head with a wooden board. Dirk is then supposed to be unconscious till the interval. Except in this case, he really was. A little blood and a lot of woosiness. Fortunately a slightly longer interval gave him enough time to regain his composure and get back on stage. Talk about a knock out performance.
- Ananya Rane in Macbeth: I remember this one happening in slow motion. I was in the audience. Ananya was playing one of the many soldiers who get killed in the final battle sequence. As she is 'slashed' she falls to the floor. Except on this particular occassion she forgot to put her hands to to cushion the impact. Her head hit the ground with a sickening thud. Although she was unable to walk after that incident for a few hours, CT scans were clear. And she was back on stage the next day.
- Budhan: Another Thespo story. This one was directed by Ananya. The piece was about police brutality and torture. The actor playing Budhan was being terrorised by Chandan Roy Sanyal's constable. A bottle was being shoved down his throat to make him drink. In the passion and vigour of the moment, the bottle broke in Budhan's mouth. Cutting his gums and his tongue. Luckily it was not very severe, but we all had a few anxious moments. The audience, however, complimented the realiism of the brutality.
- Nadir Khan in R&J: It's kind of hard to pick which of Nadir's injuries on this show should make it to the list. Is it the hit on the knee, the bleeding side or more. However, the most memorable once is when he almost suffocated on stage. Nadir, playing Tybalt, dies towards the end of the first act after a ferocious sword fighting scene with Romeo. Karan Makhija playing Balthasar, was conscripted to cover Nadir's torso with Tybalt's leather jacket to prevent the audience from seeing his chest breathing heavily. One show he took his job a little too seriously, and covered Nadir's face as well by mistake. Nadir was unable to breathe through the thick leather and actually blacked out due to lack of air. Fortunately the interval black out was near at hand and the jacket was removed in the nick of time, retuning oxygen to Nadir's needy lungs.
- Amruta Sant in Sakharam Binder: Thespo 2004 saw a powerful, energetic and violent version of Sakharam Binder. So an actor limping post the show was not really a surprise. Except that in this case, Amruta had injured herself by falling off stage in the black out before the curtain call. So technically this wasn't during show. The initial concern was then replaced with much laughter, as Amruta hobbled along on her twisted ankle.
- Kashin Shetty in Thespo 2003 Bangalore Cast Party: This one is not a show entry. But it is an on stage injury. In the euphoria of post festival celebrations, Kashin decides to jump off the stage at the Alliance Francaise in Bangalore. He lands awkwardly and is immediately rushed to the hospital with a severe sprained ankle. His mother's expression as we carried him out of the train in Bombay was priceless.
- Can't really think of a tenth. So that's where you guys come in. Send in the list. Let's see if we can make an appropriate 10!