I’ll be honest, I am not a very confident person. I can do the same thing ten times, but at the eleventh I’ll look back and still wonder if I’m doing it ok. How I ended up in a profession such as ‘theatre’ is still a shock to me. This is perhaps the only profession where ‘repetition’ becomes an art and you just “cannot” falter in that dep’art’ment.
Hence, there have been times during a show where I might skip a few lines, or make up my own. Or most popularly, forgotten to bring a prop onstage. In a very recent case, I walked onstage without my tie, and firmly told my co-actor , in character, to please go fetch my tie from ‘upstairs’ (Prithvi green room) during one of his exits. Said co-actor was visibly thrown, but thankfully did the needful.
Now, why does this happen to me? I have no idea! But taking into consideration that I ‘do’ have this problem, I have succumbed to unique methods over the years to make sure that even if I do go ahead and blunder, the show will still go well because of my ‘back-up’. Which, to my embarrassment, is solely based on superstition.
In the early days, I could ‘not’ leave home without a can of Reebok deo in my backpack, because (in my head) if I smelt it on me all day the show would go well. The Gayatri Mantra would be recited (in my head) exactly ten times before my first entry. Oh, and this was irritating to a few, I’d grate my fingernails against each other, violently, rhythmically, endlessly. As the years went on and as I got more mature (in my head) these traditions got replaced with slightly more logical routines….. a 15 minute power nap is highly essential, especially when you have double shows, or more recently, triple. Whilst driving from home to the venue, songs have to be played in the car, “have” to……. Especially ‘o saya’ from Slumdog, or ‘Praise you’ by Fatboy Slim, or basically anything by A.R Rahman. At one point of time that was all I needed, a good song running ‘in my head’ to just keep me energized and focused during a performance. Anyone from Akvarious will vouch for how I’d sneak into the Prithvi sound booth and play songs from Dev.D off my phone, guys…. It wasn’t always for you. Even elements from my wardrobe contribute to this madness sometimes. My lucky white socks with blue stripes, my lucky ¾ cargoes, my grandfather’s ring (which sometimes makes it onstage even if my character is from Chicago) , and most importantly, my blue beach shirt which I bought in 1999 which has been a constant for the past 7 years, especially for opening shows. Even a particular food or drink sometimes helps calm my nerves . . . . . . tic tacs, a tuna sub, parle-g, chamomile tea, and ‘only’ in desperate times, a Red Bull (for afore mentioned triple shows)
On top of my list however, is my lucky Leo friend who has special permission to sit in the light booth of most of my shows and watch me perform. This fellow has been perhaps my biggest support for the past 4 years. Usually when i’m slightly disheartened that none of my friends are watching the play, just the fact that ‘he’ is watching me from above gives me that burst of confidence which I desperately need.
Now, you are open to judge me in whatever way you like, think whatever of me, but all this works for me. After all, theatre is all I do, and I have to be good at it, otherwise I cant sleep at night, and truthfully, I am certain that I’m not the only one with this condition. I’m sure that there are so many others like me who follow similar trends before a show, but unlike them, atleast I’m open about it eh ??