Monday, December 17, 2007

Chennai Thetre Scene & Metroplus

A Late Review....yet no doubt Relevant

Just thought I'd start penning down nay reducing all that I wanted to say on the Metroplus Theatre Fest. '07 after the heat and dust simmers down! You'd perhaps say that this is a late bloomer now now lets get thing straight this is not about discovering something within me nor is it just about another theatre festival but it is about something that is now recognised to be Chennai's very own theatre festival. Three in a row and you have done it “Hindu”....and its here to stay. Now as bad luck would have it despite the invites all I got to see were the last three. Blame it on paucity of time, work related pressures or just my inertia anyways thanks to the Metroplus and the Evam team (Pavithra ofcourse) for having taken care of my passes, despite the market demands. Of course I would should thank Mukund (Editor, Metroplus) and Karthik (Evam) for a rather brief live talk on my radio show and there it was in clear terms all about this edition of the festival and thats that.

On the last three plays that I got to see, aha Pegasus, on the Civil Rights movement, truly a period play, a perfect script line played to the utmost perfection for I could see no flaw despite the best a roving eye like mine would wish to. And of course even that which I saw, trust me it was done in style for none could point a finger. Adeptness is not just the word for Pegasus, every actor on stage empathized with the role they adorned and with the audience being transported back in a time machine to another day almost five decades ago to the time and events they perhaps must have read or heard about or witnessed on television, Pegasus did their job. This play was no doubt for the serious minded and definitely not for the jolly go person who wishes to sit through a play and laugh his head off. My only wish is perhaps the organisers should put this in the posters or the list of plays, another column /row on the nature of the play and the target audience that would benefit from this. For instance the column could read: “This is a period play for the serious theatre afficionado and ofcourse for those who want to look at things at a lighter vein be there on the 11th and 12th for Ristorante Immortale and .......” A note like this am certain would be of value for those who are not familiar with theatre being a serious medium of public opinion and on the flip side it is informative and categorizes the play and helps the audience make quick choices.

And now for the hilarious ones the last two: Do Masks have Expressions? Ristorante Immortale seemed to say a big yes to it. Oh my god mime...mime and mime it was, expressions... rich they were. Truly professional entertainers they kept the crowd going for exactly an Hour and then the whole thing slipped into boredom. Trust me this group from Berlin is simply great but they need to feel the pulse of an audience. Mime has its limitations and an hour is notably the max. any audience can take. The last ten minutes did not seem to jive well with an impatient audience, perhaps the group should get back to its drawing board and abridge. That apart it was a perfect rendition of sorts, masks, masks, masks all around with deep expressions, emotions or they seem to speak from their hearts for every character in the play was in sync. The characterisation of human thought process was professionalism class apart. Last but not the least the impressive finale was the most commendable and innovative at its best.

The last play of the festival Vikram Kapadia's Black with Equal on Sunday was absorbing a true comedy of sorts perhaps a reality in some cases and of course as the M.C. said it was the last time that the group was performing the play and I considered myself to be lucky to watch them at close angle. This award winning satire from Bombay definitely takes the cake for it kept the entire audience on their feet, and as one of my pals referred: Quote “.....this is exactly what goes on in our flats, am just reminded of all that goes looks like this happens everywhere.....” Unquote. Definitely that was a true purge of emotions but the play had some masala to it which of course we all like. Indeed an entertainer at its best this play was certainly made a deserving finish for the third edition of the Metroplus Theatre Festival.

But one thing which as an audience I must reflect is the much awaited post performance interactive sessions that a theatre festival should encourage. Perhaps the organisers thought that this is a time consuming exercise but certainly there can be no running away from this and one should face it. It is a well known fact that the success of any theatre festival is rated not just on the impeccable performances but also the post performance interaction that the audience get to have and the debates thereon with the performers on stage. The warmth of these interactions go a long way in bridging the gap between the performers, the wannabe and of course the ever critical audience (of course you can add me in that list albeit am no connoisseur). And while not letting the dust settle on the curtains that have come down for this edition of the Metroplus Theatre Festival must say Karthik (Evam) made a fine M.C., an interesting exercise that he indulged in and am certain it paid off being informative. And for the next edition perhaps a suggestion or two, please consider the extra column as suggested above and for heavens sake the audience have to interact with the performers on stage, so the post performance interaction is a Must. Of course you can afford to dispense with Bose's loud music (nay noise) at the Verandah, perhaps the organisers should think of something that befits the ambience and trust something more “Madrasi.....” is welcome.


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