Over the years I have been involved in a whole lot of theatre in various capacities. Each one of them helped me gain more skills. Few productions that are close to my heart are as follows – (click on the image for details)
The Theatrical Journey
Summer Project On Theatre (SPOT) is a workshop conducted by Bangalore Little Theatre every year. I was lucky to be selected for the SPOT2000. That particular workshop was conducted by Sibu Vaz, he is the one I would give the maximum credit for helping me choose this path. There is a small history to this .
When I was in school in my 8th grade, I guess that would be 1995, Times of India was doing a program called NIE in schools. And in one of the sessions in that program, Sibu Vaz had come to my school to do a one hour workshop in theatre. Thats is when I got to know that theatre meant live on stage stuff, till then theatre meant a place where movies were screened. His one hour workshop made a huge difference to my life. For the next 5 years I actively participated in theatre activities in school and in my PU. And in the May of 2000 I saw an ad in the newspapers about the SPOT workshop. I applied and was called for an audition. And I met Sibu again there. Seeing him there made me desperate to be part of the workshop. After a few days I got a letter saying I was selected and it was signed by him. I still have that letter with me. I was so happy. The following 4 months laid the basic foundation of my theatre. His workshops made me look at theatre with a whole lot of respect and devotion, it was serious learning. At the end of the workshop we developed a production called CARTOONS, and that was my first ever public performance. There was no looking back after that. I believed and followed everything he preached. He introduced me to Playback Theatre. Its a form of training that every actor must go through.
Doing Playback Theatre for about 3 years with Sibu is what molded me as an actor and a director. Working with him also helped me learn the financial aspects of doing theatre, which were as important as learning the art form itself. I was also given the opportunity to teach in schools and develop productions with children. I almost imitated his way of creating theatre in my early productions in college. The very successful plays – Hare and the tortoise, Dinosaur, The cause and You are your own savior; which I created in college instilled a lot of confidence in me. So much that I quit college and got into theatre full time. But this relationship with Sibu had to end one day. In 2003 I quit working with him and moved on to become an independent practitioner. The training I got from him is invaluable to me. Thank you Sibu!
The second break through was THESPO. In December 2002, I wrote The Final Rehearsal play. I wasn’t expecting Quasar from QTP, Mumbai to like it so much that he’d select me for the THESPO4, a youth theatre festival. Ofcourse I wasn’t great at doing the play. But apparently Quasar saw that I had the potential to do it. Vivek Madan and Siva Subramanya from Bangalore were asked to groom me up, and they did a great job. Both helped me a lot in getting my act together. But after reaching Mumbai, it was from Quasar that I learnt quite a bit. He and his team just pushed me up on the stage and let me do a solo performance for a mumbai audience. I was just 19 years old, way too lucky! During Thespo I also attended all the workshops they hosted. And Quasar introduced me to the world of lighting, a few little things that he taught me in that week has helped me till date. All the wonderful lighting that is seen in my productions is all because of him. Calling me back to Mumbai to do repeats of TFR was just the thing I needed in May 2003, because I was almost suicidal at that time. Going back to Mumbai got me to work with Feroz Khan, whose theatre work I admired, and with Alyque Padamsee, who opened my mind up in many ways. Thank you Quasar.
I guess that was the end of being a follower. Life brought me to a cross road where I had to either start doing something on my own or lose the battle and be lost in some job. Thats when ACTor Productions came into the picture and I became a producer along with the other things. Doing regular public performances, workshops, corporate stuff etc kept me busy. It was during this time that the practitioners of English theatre in Bangalore did lot of work. We all were always busy in some rehearsals. Future looked very bright, especially with the promise of a dedicated theatre space called Rangashankara. And it did help us a lot in the beginning when their motto was Theatre Alive. As soon as the management shifted their focus from Theatre Alive to Rangashakara Alive, things changed for all of us. The challenges were bigger than before. Not only did we have to fight the poor status of theatre arts but also Rangashankara. The city just bombarded us with more and more challenges, alternative theatre spaces becoming expensive, the audience mesmerized by the Rangashankara hardly looked at other spaces. In this constant struggle a lot of us had to move on from being full time theatre practitioners to part time.
I everyday hope that things will change. That I will be able to do more theatre again. I am working on that. Keep watching.
In short, this is how the word Theatre traveled with me over the years,
1995 - Theatre means Movie screening place. And for the first time someone corrected me and explained what it meant.
1996 – People learn lines and learn it well and on the show day they vomit it on stage. NEVER SHOW BACK TO AUDIENCE IN THE THEATRE
1997 – Wrote and directed a play which went on to win a theatre award for my school, apparently I am born gifted.
1998 – Only male cast in the theatre, I was the only one willing to shave my mustache, I played a woman. Looked nice.
1999 – Theatre is a forbidden word, science is the bible. Sneak out and help my fellow mates do a play.
2000 – First professional workshop in theatre. Eyes open up, jaws drop down. I want to be an actor.
2001 – I am an engineering student but I am the one point contact in college for anything to do with theatre.
2002 – Quit studies. Theatre it is, and theatre it shall be. I am a full time theatre professional.
2003 – The supreme BEST ACTOR AWARD. The theatre talent of the year arrives. But no work for an entire year, waiting for opportunities.
2004 – Make opportunities. Create a Theatre Company. Write and Direct and Act in own productions.
2005 – The most happening Theatre Director, experiment theatre business, 3 shows a day 6 days a week concept
2006 – Conveniently pushed aside, superb theatre portfolio, wonderful concepts and ideas, NO space to perform
2007 - Need money, Theatre is not number of shows, theatre is a spiritual journey. One play a year.
2008 – Applying the lessons of theatre in film making. It pays. Dream of being back on stage sometime.
2009 – Theatre is a memory. Everything I am today is because of Theatre. Someday I will get back to it. Someday…
2010 – Life is looking brighter. So is my Theatre career. We might just be together again.
2011 – na! nothing happened in 2010 or 2011, I am getting more and more lost in Filmy narratives! :-(
2012 – Managed to experience it for a day on the World Theatre Day, was very happy.