Monday, August 11, 2008

mptf - act ii

Aha, the crowds were back on Thursday eve to witness moby dick or is that the way they would like to hear it and get accused of being branded moby dick for a man's mobile phone to ring! despite the a nutshell as a fellow blogger Sudhir put it across ultra creative! ultra ambiguous!! and yet this solo performance for one required some knowledge about the life of moby dick which perhaps half the crowd knew nothing about so I could guess the confusion. But for the other half who I guess knew what they saw there it was all for you the ever ruthless moby dick, the beautiful white sperm whale, graceful in its movements all brought alive by the performer(Carlo Adinolfi) with his props, with perfect steps and a doubly perfect sound and light coordination that none could find fault with. The tete a tete interaction that followed the show was informative of course I was just too glad that N.Ram has raised the very valid query on whaling and conservation (guess me too was waiting to gun him nay harpoon him on that). While commending on the ingenuity of the props which were amazing what surprises me was the brochure tells me that the performance was to last 70 minutes! But on stage what we saw was 60 minutes!! of course it was clear that the last scene wasn't yet over and yet the ignorant half of our audience began its applause, guess they had enough of it!!! And the plays on friday and saturday sorry am gleefully ignorant, friday of course had my radio I missed the Presidential address leave alone see who it was! And saturday WOW could not afford to miss the Chennai Food Guide meet (an orkut group) Mmmmm am drooling!! thinking of The Farm, what a place on OMR and the food was awesome. Wish we could have one more CFG meet on The Farm.

And its time for the last day last show at the mptf, well criticism apart thanks and no thanks for all that went well and didn't go well!! And what a way to end the festival that had its ups and downs with a marvelous compere who scripted his talk so perfectly. Trust Vijay Marur did his part very well! and Chennai!! don't let him to go to Hyderabad!!! He's one of the really good compere's we've seen in a long while. And about 'The Suit', trust me I still haven't got the right words to describe this intense play, but then the story was such and the actors simply simply played their roles so wonderfully intense that am at a loss to criticise Neelam M. Chowdhry. Of course the story of Can Themba was tweaked around not just a bit, but then why on earth are we trying to conform to a cliche and then punish those who want to break free! Ah well that's an issue for our society to debate on (and at my end all that can be said is Man is a social animal, A social animal needs a variety, And variety is the spice of life!). Adding some spice to the whole thing was Vajinder's display of his 6 pack abs...ooh la la...exhibitionism! And yes N. Mansingh Chowdhry defended herself to a large extent on the acts and roles portrayed during the tete a tete but then as she made it clear she didn't want to take a stand and yet the irony remained. But guess one thing that went sadly unnoticed was the physical presence of and importance to the background accompaniments i.e. the artists who provided the sound effects, in fact it a rare event these days to prominently notice the accompanying artists providing the background score along with the performers on stage... like in the good old days! Perhaps that's what life and theatre is all about, the schism between the reel and the real, and amidst this remains many a thing to be discovered.

Now apart from the play once again I must question the organisers the logic behind staging 'The Suit' towards the end. Am certainly of the view that a lighter one would have gone well with the crowds. And am not finding fault with the play or the reasoning behind having it on a Sunday evening but a play of this nature should have been categorized in a different manner. I guess you should rethink on categorising plays on the lines of theme based or issues. The organisers of such a premier festival have a bounden duty in addition to the seminars and workshops hosted to educate the general public in a subtle way. I strongly believe that it is one of the noble objectives of The Hindu to evolve public opinion on issues that concern the general public and definitely you should not lose sight that theatre is a powerful media that helps shape public opinion.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Metroplus Theatre Fest. '08 - phase 1

Guess all that begins well ends well and the Korean group that was set to begin with the Midsummer Nights Dream...Hmmm as usual come Friday and I miss it anyways, the flip side being I enjoyed my radio it was great music on friday the 1st of Aug. '08 - 214th day of the year, so that's a wash out for me....Now for Day-2 - trust me Rajit Kapoor and Shernaz Patel were simply superb and yes the Hall at which they performed indeed resounded the best of vibes for the prepared mind. And if "Love Letters" could have gone for 250 plus shows I will not be surprised to one fine day hear the 1000 plus record of this play. Awesome, touching, nostalgic, sentimental were perhaps some of the scribbling on the graffiti board that caused the purge of emotions! well you had it all!! Now allow me to blame myself for having missed the tete-a-tete with the actors in the cafeteria and I shall never forgive myself on that. But guess if only they could answer this query of mine....did they feel any sort of a change in their personal lives having performed this play 250 times plus of course allow me to ask why didn't Shernaz Patel ever think of the RK tattoo!

And Now talking about winners and losers, bulls and bears looks like this theatre festival has its share of kudos and brickbats and trust me if friday and saturday were the bull run days sunday was the day of the bears...and its not over with that. With all due praise and appreciation for the bold approach of Johannes von Matuschka in Electronic City by Project InDe Act, it looks like the idea of the project in action just did not sink in with more than half the audience, who showed their feedback by walking off and the remaining who just clapped through the appreciation. Well Count it didn't seem to work well here. The idea of a start without any introduction was great and the bit on the cellphone menace was well taken, trust the audience in Chennai would do well to deserve that. And it took a while for most to understand that these characters were props among the audience. While empathizing with the contemporary concept and new forays into theatre looks like somewhere you have lost the entertainment portion. The roles were played well but however there seems to be a disconnect. Actually I never knew that the role of Tom (the man in the film wandering about) was later attributed to a character on stage. Guess the transition wasn't so smooth and perhaps I still don't get the logic of not having a common face for the character Tom and how the TV shooting scenes get into the whole experiment. And coming to the violence on stage well thats another controversial issue, am certainly of the feel that violence of any form has its limits on stage. Expressing an act of frustration need not be in virulent violent scenes. Perhaps you should allow the audience to say "Stop" the next time we see such virulence on stage, now lets talk about the audience - actor interaction on stage....something to experiment about hey! That apart the lighting could have been worked around better and about the rain, that was awesome. Little did we realise it was raining outside all the same the sound of rain that we heard in the hall and I don't know, was it part of the sound recording or were we hearing it rain for real (I bet the hall has a weathering coat that is sound proof too!); Lastly a project of this nature is good but has to be abridged if you guys really want to take the message across.

And a word or two for the organisers, I bet a Sunday evening is not the right time for some experimentation. The denizens of Chennai have paid a price to watch an entertaining show and you are not doing justice to them with experiments on a Sunday evening!! And of course I sincerely wish the compere could have reminded us that there was a tete-a-tete with the Director and cast of the play, most of us left thinking that was the end, given the good night wishes! and the rain!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

'tis time for the Metroplus Theatre Fest! Aint it!!

Yet another festival and yes as I said last year the Metroplus theatre festival of The Hindu is certainly one the denizens of Chennai await. And thanks to Evam and Harsha in particular for having done the P.R. and getting me to the curtain raiser in time! and am only too glad to sport the blogger's pass, thanks Evam and The Hindu. Of course the launch party was nice, N.Ram was at his delightful best and the wine, the food, and the band et al made a great curtain raiser. And Now Folks await for the rip rip off in the days to come.....