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10 ‘Moments’ From Thespo 13

I am still in my Thespo hangover. So this month’s countdown is a review of ten things that I really enjoyed at Thespo 13. 

1.    Changing Perspective:
I have been a fan of Robert Lepage’s work for many years. One of the things that he specialises in is the changing of perspective of the action. Suddenly providing a top view of a piece of action for example. Simon McBurney touched on it fleetingly in Disappearing Number, but it was a ‘blink and you miss it’ moment. At Thespo, BMCC from Pune managed to create a top view of a hospital bed with such finesse and power it was outstanding. What’s more, they didn’t hurry through the moment. The sequence took it’s time. A brilliant bit of stage craft. This is why Thespo is so important, because a 20 year old director can think out of the box and wow an audience by stuff they haven’t seen before.

2.    Making Love with your clothes on:
The play was called ‘Cock’. The content was incredibly sexual. Yet there was no vulgarity. There was a ‘sex scene’ between a boy and a girl, except they never stripped. They never even touched. Yet the scene was erotic and powerful. The actors words created images in our heads that we weren’t seeing. The image in contrast showed us more the politics between the two characters rather than the ‘act’ itself. A gutsy and successful bit of directing.

3.    Phone Line:
Janhit Mein Jaari was set in a village. The set was quite realistic. And in this realism, an absurd element stood out. On stage right was an Antenna. Dangling from the antenna was a mobile phone. A symbol of the only line of connection to the outside world for the villagers. A brilliant idea and used excellently in the physical comedy for when the phone rings.

4.    Shadow Play:
This year at Thespo, a group of dancers devised a performance using the outside space at Prithvi. The piece used almost all the areas that it could. One of the stand-out elements was the use of shadows in one particular sequence. A man was dancing on the raised portion of the Prithvi steps. Inside projected on the gallery wall was a shadow that was moving him. Except the shadow was of another dancer. The jugalbandi between man and shadow was thrilling to watch. And at some point in the piece the postions of dancer and shadow dancer exchanged.

5.    Deer caught in headlights:
Another moment from the site specific A.T.T.A.C.H.E.D. This was completely spontaneous. One of the dancers was doing her piece at the side gate of Prithvi house. There is a moment in the performance when she steps to cross the road to come to the Prithvi Theatre side. During her performance as she stepped across a car pulled up to let off audience members. It was almost like on cue the car turned up to light the dancer. The car waited patiently while the dancer finished her routine, before moving away. A lovely moment.

6.    Live Music:
Kaizad Gherda accompanied the performance of Cock on a synthesiser. Although only intended to provide background score, the ‘live’ nature of the playing added tremendously to the performance. So much better than a cd playing the track. He was live and active and complemented the actors excellently.

7.    Patil Picture:
Janhit Mein Jaari, is a love story about a small rural boy who falls in love with the Sarpanch’s daughter. The Sarpanch is a large dominating man. In one scene, the lovers meet in the inside room of the girls house. The presence of the father is on the wall in a hilarious drawing of the Sarpanch. Even in absence he is present.

8.    Cross fade:
In Patient, the entire play is set in a hospital room. However in one particular sequence the patient recounts the day when his father first bought a transistor radio. It was a great day in their life. Instead of using another side of stage or even changing the stage, the scene in the chawl arrived in the hospital. Subtle changes to the furniture created the home, and the hospital bed although centre stage become almost unnoticeable. An ensemble of almost twenty came on, each completely immersed in his or her task, be it washing clothes, playing cricket or cooking. The transformation was like a slow dissolve in a film, except it took place right in front of our eyes. A subtle but exciting moment in theatre.

9.    Hating the plays:
Sid Kumar got invited to talk about the screening process at the Thespo Awards Night. As with last year he hijacked the agenda to tell us why he wouldn’t pick these four plays. He is developing into a powerful stand up comic, and a comedy writer of some repute. Check out this link for his whole routine: 

10. Inherit The Wind:
This is truly a personal choice. And it was made by the oldest performer at Thespo. Jagdish Raja, the Lifetime Achievement Awardee, chose to recite a speech from Inherit The Wind(ITW). ITW was the first play I had ever directed. And when I heard the first words, they seemed familiar. It was only half way through the speech did I realise why I knew the words so well. For me, it was a wonderful culmination to the week-long festival, and a beautiful rendition of immortal words.

And that’s the list. Send in your ‘Thespo 13 moments’ and let’s argue them on the blog.