In my short experience as a theatre director, many people have come and sat on my drawing room couch (not the casting kind), and have wanted to join theatre or theatres...depending on which part of the country you come from. Call me a purist, but I work in theatre because of theatre, not for some ulterior motive. But many that I have met, want to for reasons so far fetched it is hard to believe. So here is a countdown of 7 of the "wrong" reasons for joining theatre.
- I want to join films:
This is a favourite. Scores of people from all over the country come to Bombay in search of stardom. Most feel that they can be the next Naseer and therefore jump into the theatre without even knowing what it is and how much work it takes.
- Can't do anything else:
This story is not really mine, but Prof. Waman Kendre's. Apparently a parent brought his child to him and asked the child to be enrolled in a workshop. Waman asked the man why, and this was the answer, "He couldn't get into science stream or even commerce, so we thought he should become an actor!"
This is the biggest misconception, that theatre will lead to fame. Satisfaction yes, but fame no. At least not in the way of Bollywood fame. There are a few stage actors that have developed cult following and loyal fans like Anand Tiwari, Rajit Kapur, Zafar Karachiwala and a few others. But most fans flock to see film actors on stage, not stage actors on film.
- Learn Acting
The lack of acting schools means that anyone who wants to learn acting needs to find other avenues. Theatre seems to have gained the reputation of being that training ground. People believe it will make them better actors for their 'careers'. The tragedy of this is that many actors are then looking at theatre for the experience without actually focusing on making the role as full as it can possibly be.
- Meet Chics
This is the biggest myth. It happens a lot at the college level and sometimes in the post college level. Theatre actresses wow audiences with their performances. And suddenly people seem to think that doing theatre is a good way to pick up girls. The truth is pretty far from this. These actresses work incredibly hard to make the audience fall in love with them, hours of rehearsals and character study. And the truth is most are taken...by pilots, diamond traders, etc. Sorry guys.
Another great myth, usually held by non-theatrewallahs who think theatre people wake up late, hang out all day, smoke ganja all the time and live the good life. Nothing could be further than the truth. Most people who come to this city have to share 10 to an apartment to make ends meet. Struggle for paying work and use it all the subsidise their love for performing live.
- Unable to make a film
This is a favourite of writers. People who write screenplays and then when they discover no one will buy it, try and convert it to a stage production. I have read scenes like "It is a godown and the policeman bursts in to raid the smugglers", or "It is a beach and the gangsters boats pull into shore". Filmy is an understatement.
Well so that's the list. Feel free to comment and to add.