Monday, December 18, 2006

Something is taking its course!

Shoestring Theatre's production of Ends and Beginnings had a good show at Thespo 8, Mumbai. We always thought it was funny play, and, for once, the audience agreed.

At Thespo, we swept the awards. We won in every category, except Best Actress, where we didn't have a nomination as Niharika had a supporting role.
(We have our views issues on this, but guess the idea is make things simpler. We'd rather give away Best Male Actor, Second Best Male Actor,
Best Female Actor, Second Best Female Actor. Works so much better in theatre, in our opinion.)

Our awards.

Best Play

Best Production Design
Bijoy Idicheriah, Priyanshi Saxena, Ryan Fernandes (Production Team)
Edsil Coutinho (Lights)

Best Director
Vivek V. Narayan

Best Actor
Warren D'Sylva (Hamm)

Best Supporting Actress
Niharika Negi (Nell)

Best Supporting Actor
Siddharth Kumar (Clov)

Rishi Verma, who played Nagg was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

We're planning more shows in Jan-Feb.
Watch this space for details.

We got a surprisingly insightful review in the Mumbai Mirror dated December 19th, 2006. The review was written by Pragya Tiwari. (No link yet, but it's on page 42 under the ETC section.)

An article written by Vivek was printed in the DNA on
Saturday, the 16th. The editor kept the set-up lines, and chopped the punchlines in the version that appeared in the DNA. Beautiful! However, she him as Vivek Narayan, just 23, writes... For someone who's worrying about growing old, it sure must be quite agreeable to be introduced as Vivek Narayan, just 23.

Here's the DNA article.

This is the unedited first draft of the article.
Two planks, a passion and…?
By Vivek V. Narayan

When I first read Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, it produced a rather profound visceral reaction in me. It was, in precise terms, ‘huhn?’.

I went back to the play later, mostly because a rather grave actor, who was a rather grave professor of literature by day, assured me that the play was about old age!

A couple of re-readings, and I could understand, and worse, even relate to, some parts in the play. The moment of damnation came when I started laughing at the play, and that was when I realized I wanted to stage Endgame.

Having found a text was a start, but only that. I needed a team. Warren D’Sylva, one of the founding members of Shoestring Theatre, came on board soon after. The rest of the team trickled in one by one, and finally, we had a cast and a production team.

In hindsight, our rehearsal process seems to have been one of elimination. We ran through a few designs – one highlighting the chess motif, another bringing out the claustrophobia – all lacked conviction. The only constant (mercifully, there was one) was the element of comedy. We were positive we had a very funny play on our hands. The problem was to get the audience to agree.

Rehearsals were mostly fun, except when we actually worked on the play. The fact that we were all excited young people, brought with it chronic self-indulgence, but also an air of active peer collaboration that allowed us to question everything. Nothing was sacred, not even Beckett. We made changes with gusto, chopped, edited and added, and the play transformed into Ends and Beginnings, a title we thought would focus better on the lives of the characters in the play. We were infinitely more interested in the present lives of the characters than their past. This shift in focus also brought into focus the element of play acting, which became another area of interest.

When we thought the play was more or less ready, we started looking for staging venues. And that was when Thespo happened.

Once we were selected, we had mentoring workshops with theatre professionals like Ramu Ramanathan, Arghya Lahiri and Jehan Maneckshaw. In Ramu and Arghya, we had found two extremely sympathetic critic-mentors, and even more delightfully, fellow Beckett lovers. Jehan came in later and helped us focus better on the craft of our production.

I must admit to having gone into the whole mentoring process with a lot of scepticism and apprehension, but I came out of it convinced of, and touched by, Thespo’s faith in our creative vision. This sensitivity to young creative minds, and the commitment it implies, must surely be one of the most significant elements in Thespo’s contributions to youth theatre in India.

True, one only needs two planks and a passion to make great theatre. But a sensitive festival organizer doesn’t hurt.

Crossposted on angry fix.


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