Monday, July 26, 2010

My experiments with theatre

I was reading this blog and tripped over the mention of Dr. Faustus. I quickly fell down a cozy velvet cushion called memory and it took me back to my school days. There was a reason. I enacted Dr. Faustus in the drama for our school day. Little did I knew about the character or the storyline then, but today wiki says Dr.Faustus is (was) a significant character in the world of drama.

Well at the na├»ve high school level enacting a drama means bunking classes with permission and off to rehearsals. It feels so good when some odd person come and asks for me for drama practice. And all eyes would fall on me and I would royally walk out from the class, amidst the envious looks of my classmates. Well, it was very few in our class who regularly got summoned for drama rehearsals during the class. The directors of the drama (the teachers in respective languages – English, Hindi and Tamil. No we never had a Malayalam drama for the School day), considers me to be a good actor and I would totally enjoy when teachers would bargain and fight for some of the people (including the humble me) for their drama. It would typically go like this

English Teacher : Hey, this time we need Albi
Hindi Teacher : No way, I have made a role keeping him in mind.
Tamil Teacher : Hello.. Albi was there in English drama last year, remember. He will be with me this time.

And the argument continues. Well as far as I was concerned, first come first serve.

The first time I got into drama was while at 4th grade. That was by accident though. I was this super thrilled to be in drama and went on to witness a drama (Tamil) rehearsal during one of the holidays. A guy who was enacting a small role couldn’t do it as the teacher (director) expected it to be. Not sure how, but somehow I stepped in and said ‘ Hey, I will show you how to do that’ and I did it. Teacher was expressively happy and she suggested me to take up the role. No, that guy wasn’t abandoned – he was given another role which he played well (His role had no dialogues nor enactment, just to be on the sides with his spear :-p). Ok, so that was my first ‘drama’tic moment. Before becoming an actor, I had written a script too. The first script I had written for a drama was when I was at 4th grade again. That was something about Gandhiji’s salt satyagraha. But that never appeared in the limelight. Some other scripts I wrote was enacted not in school. But in my neighbourhood, with some of my friends. We used to have regular rehearsals and costumes, although there were no audience.

Later when at 5th (or so I think) I along with 2 other friends directed and enacted a 10 minute comedy mime. That went on to be a big hit. On a sidenote we were the second most seniors in the school, and while we were at 5th grade the maximum our school had was 6, and when we were at 6th, the maximum was 7 and so on. So most of the audience were junior kids who laughed their guts out seeing our silly mute shows (slapstick comedy). We (me and 2 friends) almost were a brand, that we were approached by representatives of various literary associations of our school to perform shows. Some of which we did (I could recollect and Doordarshan Show, News reading and some other miscellaneous comedies, which were mostly modified version of something we had seen in some movies or so). What more I was even asked to create a script for a comedy show for some other school !. I was just flying.

Lots more dramas, mimes, declamations, flower-arrangements, fancy dresses and elocutions later, it was time for my final drama at school. That was the most enjoyable and saddening one. Enjoyable because we got some of the ‘best actors’ of the school in that drama and being with them was a great experience; sad because that was my last play at that school (They admitted no boys for 11th and 12th grade). I was all thrilled for the drama because I played the main role. And that was Dr. Faustus. Oh my! we had so great moments of our life during the rehearsals.

I would cry aloud when teachers (directors) wanted Dr. Faustus to cry that once our ayah came running wondering what happened. We had to memorise dialogues (not only ours, but others' also). Mine were the lengthiest, and I remember me memorizing the dialogues for nights together. My parents were very supportive and never asked me to concentrate on studies (although it was my public exams that year). I had monologues which went on for 5-6 minutes. It was real fun learning it by heart and expressing it with the right emotions. I also remember one of my friends who was playing a significant role in the drama got affected by chicken pox a week before our final play, and we had to run around to find a replacement and teach the person all the dialogues. Boy, it was fun.
Oh how much I enjoyed.

Given the right push, would I have seen my name written on the silver screen?
Alas! creativity has taken a back seat in this big money-chasing world. Sigh!.. some day.

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