Came across this beautiful documentary of Balasaraswathi, the Bharatanatyam dancer from Tamil Nadu.
This has been directed by Satyajit Ray.
Came across this beautiful documentary of Balasaraswathi, the Bharatanatyam dancer from Tamil Nadu.
This has been directed by Satyajit Ray.
This is a great great way to do theatre in Bangalore, especially when there is so much time spent on the road, in the traffic!
CATCH THE SUN
Based on Eric Carle’s book Walter the Baker
Walter the Baker, Anna, Walter Jr, Duke, Duchess, Cat, Mouse, Soldiers, Towns people, soldiers, narrators
Everyone loves Walter the Baker’s rolls and pastries, especially the Duke and Duchess. But one day an unfortunate accident forces Walter to substitute water for milk in his sweet rolls, and the incensed Duke and Duchess present Walter with a challenge – create from one piece of dough a tasty roll that the sun can shine through three times, or be banished from the kingdom. What will Walter make?
Stage empty of actors. Left of Stage, a table with two chairs. Right of stage a sign board that has an image of a pie. Towns people hurry about with empty baskets speaking..
Music: French Music in French Cafe: Best of French Cafe Music (French Cafe Accordion Traditional Music)
Narrator 01: Hello, Hello, Hello! Hello to everybody in this audience. Welcome to our little town of Duchy! Our story opens here…. In this city of Duchy, and in this little lane, at the back of the main street, an old street where once there lived…..
(Narrator 02 runs from the audience)
Narrator 02: Oh, storyteller, oh story teller, something is happening… I don’t understand….
Narrator 01: What don’t you understand?
Narrator 02: Why is everyone running in the direction of that street? Something is happening
Narrator 01: yes, yes, something did happened.. this happens every morning…
Narrator 02: …, and they seem to be smiling… so… hmmmmmm what is that aroma….? It is mouth water….
(Walks in the direction of the aroma….)
Narrator 01: our story is set in this beautiful town of Duchy, where there lived Walter the baker, his wife Anna and their son Walter Junior…
This is the bakery where Walter works… he works every morning when the people of this town are still asleep…
He makes ….
Narrator 02: ohhhhh…. cakes, tarts, breads, rolls, cookies and pies…. yummmmmmmmmm
Narrator 01: Anna sells the baked goods in the store… run before they get all sold… no one can resist the warm, sweet
Narrator 02: the sweet sweet smell of bread, and pies….
Narrator 01: Wait.. wait.. you were saying…. Hahahaha, another one takes a cake walk….
Narrator 01: Walter Jr…. Hey Walter Jr… off to meet the Duke and Duchess?
(enters the stage eating a piece of pie)
Narrator 02: Duke and Duchess? What? Where?
Walter Jr: Yes yes…. The Duke and the Duchess who rule over the Duchy loved Walter’s sweet rolls… Every morning I carry basketful of warm sweet rolls to the castle and deliver it to them…
Oh look at the time… It is there there are… I better hurry
(the duke and the duchess come by and sit on the chairs)
Narrator 02: The Duke and the Duchess…. (shakes himself off well) I would like to visit and pay my respects…(bows to the Duke and the Duchess as Walter enters the space and serves them jelly rolls)
Duke: Hmmmmm (bites into their rolls)
Duchess: Ahhhh (eats her roll)
Narrator 02: This happens every morning?
Narrator 01: Every morning like clock work!
Narrator 02: Perfect… perfect…. So happy….
Walter: Life is happiness indeed
I have everthing I need
Thought I bake all day and night
Narrator 02: Looks like everything is alright.. everything is great…. Nothing could go wrong….
Narrator 01: You spoke tooo soon…..
Narrator 02: What did I say…
Narrator 01: Everything was great and the same for most mornings…. Until one early morning….
Narrator 02: What happened? Let us see…
Walter: Spring rolls to make… to make to make…
Fresh bread to bake to bake to bake
I need milk and eggs….
Eggs… ? Where did I leave the eggs…?
Walter… you are surely becoming forgetful…
I will leave the milk here and go get the eggs from the pantry….
Mouse: Oh I smell cheese … can I have some please…
It is some where here… may be there….
Cat: I smell a mouse… in the house… where is it…
In the kitchen I think….
(Cat and mouse see each other – chase – MUSIC : Chase Music , and topple the milk… as Walter enters)
Music: -Yakety Sax- Music
Walter: What? What? What happened here?
The milk…. Ahhhh? The milk… the fresh milk ….
What will I do? I cannot make sweet rolls without fresh milk…. Oh no…
Narrator: At that moment, he decided to try something new
Walter: Let me try something new… how about making (hesitantly) the same pie today… (hesitating) a new recipe… life is always about experimenting … yes? Where better to experiement than in the kitchen… so I will experiment too today…
Since it is too late and too expensive to get all that milk..again… I will make the sweet role with water instead….
Anna + Walter Jr: Water? Water?
Anna: Will it taste the same?
Walter Jr: Will the Duke and the Duchess like it?
Narrator 02: Did the Duke and Duchess like it?
(Walter and N 1 + 2) turn towards the Duke and Duchess table…
D + D: Yuck!!! What…
What is this?
Where is the baker? Bring Walter here soon!
(Walter went to the Duke, shaking in fright, as Anna and Walter Jr stood behind him)
Narrator 02: Oh no, the Duke does not look pleased
The Duchess seems to be fuming
Narrator 01: Shhhhhh!
Duke: What do you call this?
Duchess: this this?
Duke: this is not a roll,
Duchess: this feels like a stone….
Walter: I….. I….
Duke: I.. I… What?
Walter: I was experimenting, with water instead of milk….
Duchess: Pack your things and leave this town
Leave Duchy forever!
I never want to see you again!
Walter: I am so sorry.. but where will I go… this is my home… my home…Where will I go?
Please, Please, please give me one more chance….
Duke: I must banish you…
I must, I must…
But I will give you another chance…
You did say you were experimenting, Inventing…
Now invent this:
A roll. With a piece of dough. It must taste good …
Duke: I am not done…
Walter: go on… your highness..
Duke: The sun… the rising sun must shine three times through this roll.
Narrator: Look at them… they look so sad, dejected… what will Walter do?
Narrator 01: Walter did not take a break, a rest, even for a minute…
Walter: Long rolls, short rolls, sweet rolls, twisted rolls, fat rolls even salty rolls….
N1 + N2, A+ WJ: But alas! Nothing worked….
N1: Then the had another idea,…
Walter: I’ll beat, push and pound the dough.. oh no!!!
All in vain… let me try something new….
N2: is it going to work? Yawwwwnnnn! I am going to sleep….
N1: Wait for me….
(N1 and N2 EXIT yawning)
Walter: its hopeless….
WJ: What is he doing? He is throwing it to the ceiling…
Anna: Oh no, it dropped …
WJ: Father stop…. Motehr look….
WJ: Look at how the dough….
Look at the shape father….
Anna: It looks like the dough is praying too… for a miracle…
Walter: Pop it into the oven….
Anna: Into the oven it goes…
Walter Jr: now wait…
Anna: Perfect, it is brown and crisp….
Walter Jr: its not risen very high, and made from one piece of dough
Walter: What is more….
Anna: Hold it up… hold it up…. Hold the twisted roll up…
Walter Jr: Look papa, mamma, we can see the sun shining through it three times…..
Anna: Let me see…. Three big suns….
Walter: (Silence… takes the pretzel) YIPPIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
(All the three dance and sing… yippie…)
Walter: Life is happiness indeed….
I have everhting I need…
N1 and N2: Walter, Walter… the Duke and Duchess are arriving here….
What will you tell them?
I am getting so tensed….
(Enter Duke and Duchess – Walter smiles and hands the Duke the pretzel)
Duke: Well Done Walter!
Duke: We have decided not to send you away!
Duchess: Now pray tell Walter, What do you call this?
Walter: um… yes… Pray… Pray…
Duchess: Pray what? Pray…. Pretzel…..Pretzel it shall be….
(Duke holds up the pretzel…)
Duke: From now on….this sweet roll shall be served in the morning,
Duchess: …and in the afternoon too…
Narrator 01: From that day on… Walter made Pretzels for everyone , day and night in his bakery.
The whole town got to taste the pretzels….
Walter Jr: A special basket of pretzels went everyday for the duke and the duchess…
Narrator 01: And everyone cheered Walter the Pretzel Maker!
Narrator 02: What a story!
For the coming month’s display on the wall – ARTIST OF THE MONTH – I am looking at my other inspiration – LOTTE REINIGER. She is a woman, I would like to emulate. Lotte Reiniger’s work has captivated me since the first time I came across it. She communicates so well with her puppets and her simple sketches. Her papers are delicate and she just uses a scissor and none of the advanced tools that we use today.
Even before any of the Disney movies came about, Lotte’s work was seen in Europe, and was pure in its artistic expression. They were based on classical stories like Cinderella, The Adventures of Prince Achmed . Her workmanship was perfect and all her puppets were complicated, with dynamic movements.
Here are some of her movies
REVOLTING RHYMES: CINDERELLA
Based on Roald Dahl’s Cinderella
For Drama Beginners
Stage Clear. Music Comes on.
All stage hands and three narrators gather around the narrators as the story begins.
Narrator 1: I guess you think you know this story.
(All stage hands nod their heads.)
Narrator 2: You don’t.
(All stage hands look towards the main actor)
(NARRATOR 3): The real one’s much more gory.
(All stage hands go… making gory faces)
Narrator 1: The phoney one, the one you know,
Was cooked up years and years ago,
Narrator 2: And made to sound all soft and sappy
NARRATOR 3: Just to keep the children happy.
(All stage hands go..awwww, so cute, sigh!)
Narrator 1: Mind you, they got the first bit right,
The bit where, in the dead of night,
Narrator 2: The Ugly Sisters,
Ugly Sisters: jewels and all,
Narrator 2: Departed (Claps her hands) for the Palace Ball,
(Narrators become chariot)
NARRATOR 3: While darling little Cinderella,
(Sitara Ramanna comes walking in with a red chair and Cindy gets on top of it)
Was locked up in a slimy cellar,
Cindy : (Sigh) This is sooo sad.
NARRATOR 3: Little Cinderella
Was locked up in a slimy cellar
Narrator 1: Where rats who wanted things to eat,
Began to nibble at her feet.
Cindy : Shoo! Help! Let me out!
Narrator 2: The magic fairy heard her shout!
NARRATOR 3: Appearing in a blaze of light
Fairy God Father : My dear, Are you alright?
Cindy : All right? Can’t you see?
I feel as rotten as rotten can be.
Narrator 1: She beat her fist against the wall and shouted…
Cindy : Get me to the palace Ball
Music: Some Bee Gees number
Cindy : There is a disco in the palace
THERE IS A DISCO AT THE PALACE!
The rest have gone and I am jalous!
I want a dress! I want a coach!
And earrings and a diamond brooch!
And silver slippers, two of those!
And lovely bedazzled clothes!
Done up like that I’ll guarantee
The handsome Prince will fall for me!
Narrator 2: The Fairy said,
Fairy God Father : Hang on a tick.
NARRATOR 3: He gave the magic wand a mighty flick And quickly, in no time at all,
Narrator 1: Cindy was at the Palace Ball!
Narrator 2: It made the Ugly Sisters wince, to see her dancing with the Prince.
NARRATOR 3: She held him very tight and pressed /herself against his manly chest.
Narrator 1: The Prince himself was turned to pulp, All he could do was gasp and gulp.
Prince : Wait a sec, let me catch a breath.. am seeing spots, am I close to death?
Narrator 2: Then midnight struck.
Sound Effect: Clock Striking 12
Narrator 2: Cindy shouted,
Cindy : Heck! I’ve got to run to save my neck!’
NARRATOR 3: The Prince cried…
Prince : No! Alas! Alack!
NARRATOR 3: He grabbed her dress to hold her back.
As Cindy shouted,
Cindy : Let me go!
Narrator 1: The dress was ripped from head to toe.
She ran out in her underwear,
Narrator 2: And lost one slipper on the stair.
The Prince was on it like a dart,
NARRATOR 3: He pressed it to his pounding heart,
Prince : The girl this slipper fits,
NARRATOR 3: he cried,
Prince : Tomorrow morn shall be my bride!
I’ll visit every house in town
Until I’ve tracked the maiden down!
NARRATOR 3: Then rather carelessly, I fear,
He placed it on a crate of beer.
Narrator 1: At once, one of the Ugly Sisters,
The one whose face was blotched with blisters
UGS1: that means you (to UGS2)
UGS2: no you…
Narrator 1: It is not her or her.. but the both of you
(Actor brings a barrel – UGS1 and UGS2 go around like they are playing dog and the bone)
Sneaked up and grabbed the dainty shoe,
Narrator 2: And quickly flushed it down the loo.
Sound Effect: Flush of the Loo
Then in its place she calmly put
The slipper from her own left foot.
UGS1: Evil Laugh!
NARRATOR 3: Next day, the Prince went charging down
To knock on all the doors in town.
Narrator 1: In every house, the tension grew.
Who was the owner of the shoe?
Narrator 2: Thousands of eager people came
To try it on, but all in Narrator 3in.
NARRATOR 3: Now came the Ugly Sisters’ go.
One tried it on. The Prince screamed,
Prince : No!
NARRATOR 3: But the sister screamed,
UGS1: Yes! It fits! Whoopee! – So now you’ve got to marry me!
Narrator 1: The Prince went white from ear to ear.
Prince : Let me out of here.
UGS1: Oh no you don’t! You made a vow!
There’s no way you can back out now!
Prince : Off with her head!
Narrator 2: The Prince roared back.
They chopped it off with one big whack.
This pleased the Prince. He smiled and said,
Prince : She’s prettier without her head.’
NARRATOR 3: Then up came Sister Number Two,
UGS2: Now I will try the shoe!
Prince : Try this instead!
NARRATOR 3: the Prince yelled back.
He swung his trusty sword and smack –
Her head went crashing to the ground.
It bounced a bit and rolled around.
Narrator 1: In the kitchen, peeling spuds,
Cinderella heard the thuds
Narrator 2: Of bouncing heads upon the floor,
And poked her own head round the door.
Cindy : What’s all the racket?
Narrator 2: Cindy cried.
Prince : Mind your own bizz,
Narrator 2: the Prince replied.
Poor Cindy’s heart was torn to shreds.
Cindy : My Prince!… He chops off heads!
How could I marry anyone
Who does that sort of thing for fun?
Narrator 1: The Prince cried,
Cindy : Who’s this dirty One??
Push her around, just for fun!
Narrator 1: Just then, all in a blaze of light,
The Magic Fairy hove in sight,
And said swoosh and swish
Fairy God Father : Cindy! make a wish!
Wish anything and have no doubt
That I will make it come about!’
Cindy : Oh kind Fairy,
This time I shall be more wary.
No more Princes, no more money.
I have had enough of people who act funny.
I’m wishing for a decent man.
Are they hard to find ? Do you think you can?’
Narrator 2: Within a minute, Cinderella
Narrator 2: Was married to a lovely feller,
A simple jam-maker by trade,
Who sold good home-made marmalade.
Their house was filled with smiles a nd laughter
And they were happy ever after.
Anupama Chandrashekhar’s play Free Outgoing played at Ranga Shankara this past weekend. The cast of 7 actors from Chennai and Bangalore were directed by esteemed director Mahesh Dattani. It had been a very long time since I had seen a social drama, especially one in English, and especially one based in South Indian Chennai.
The play runs more than an hour and centers around the life of a single mother whose life orbits around her children. She works two jobs to make ends meet and has mundane concerns about water shortage, exam scores of her children and her life is on a go go go pace. At the start of the play, her biggest concern is the performance of her son Sharath who is not matching up by any accounts to the over achieving daughter Deepa, who also has focused ambitions of becoming a doctor. Nothing amiss than the plot in any middle class family. But life falls apart.
Deepa becomes the centre of attention of the whole nation when the video of her being intimate with her boyfriend makes the rounds as an MMS. Soon, she is expelled, her brother too a day later and all are bound to each other in a house arrest, and the house begins to tear apart from within. The focus is on how a mother tries to keep her family intact in the sensless swirl of events that follow, judgements that are dealt and the loss of dignity.
Pallavi MD as Malini the mother, held the play together with her performance. She and the actor playing Sharath were the two reasons why the play is watchable. Pallavi’s performance was captivating and very energetic and was brilliant in the scene where she sees her daughter’s mms video. But apart from those two actors, the play was disappointing. At best the treatment of the play was TV Soap Opera-ish with blame being pushed at one person or the other for the issue. To engage in this meant to hear the pleas of a mother for fairness, a negotiation for survial of a family but the silence of Deepa. This is why the content of the play fails for me – where it loses the plot according to me. Let me explain.
Teenagers desire freedom from their adolescent life, they are always trying to push the boundaries set around them about what is acceptable or not. Negotiating, taking risks come naturally to them. Deepa is no different than any other teenager. She engages in a sexual act with her friend and believes she has the anonymity of one of the many teenagers who are doing the same. Only her privacy is violated. Reminded me of Tylor Clementi who jumped the George Washington Bridge after his roomate captured him being intimate with his male friend in a webcam.
Society behaves rigid and inimical as shown by the moralistic teacher, the father of Deepa’s lover, the neighbour. What is disappointing is so does Malini. It feels like Anupama Chandrashekhar pays homage to the tv dramas of the 70s and the 80s. Who cares about Deepa? There is this whole, bitterly familiar. “Oh we am victims, we were violated boo-hoo” by Malini where she does not even listen to the suggestions of her son to address the press with some inner strength – some transformation. What is disappointing is that, Anupama may be portraying this as what happens in real life, her play does not even attempt to show an engagement in a different solution. There must be another way. One wonders why she did not even attempt to interpret this situation as someone who lives in this day and age through the voice of someone closer to her age. May be the repeated pleas from Sharat to Malini to address the press, to not back down, was the other voice inside Anupama begging for a different solution – she quells it repeatedly through Malini.
For one thing, it was the plot, for the other, it was the long scene changes and the music that made the play hard to sit through. If the audience was engaged, it was to see the performance ability of Pallavi MD who mostly held the whole play on her shoulders.
When the lights came up at the end of Free Outgoing, one was left shaking their head in sheer disappointment. May be the playwright wanted Deepa’s silence to bother us, to anger us, to provoke us. But to what? You ask a close ended question and mumble an answer – an apology – making Malini the Martyr and Deepa the fallen daughter. An older theatre veteran was unforgiving in her comments, when she said, “Why did that Deepa not kill herself… at least that would have been some drama.”
May be another competitor team can reinterpret this differently. I am sure it is permissible in theatre.
Play: Keep Calm and #ashtag
I liked the play and its energy, the actors did a great job. I liked how the narratives were woven and interlocked into each others in a way that made the horror of your life being played out in a public portal more real and gritty.
As I sat watching this, kept going back to how virtual world is a safe + unsafe (still one goes back to it) refuge and identity for many students. An easy refuge – from where one develops an identity of who we are in front of a willing audience of those who may be privy and needy to every minute detail of your life as you are open to sharing. Where identity is shaped perhaps on the approving -like or disapproving comments of someone out there.
The part that struck me is that the people who approve or not are easily deceived anyway. (Who says that what we show on a platform is what we are really? Reminded me of Lady Gaga and the essay – LadyGaga and the Remaking of Celebrity Culutre. So where is the desire to develop an identity from them coming from? This was very interesting for me – that self contentment comes from social approval… a sort of ultimate self deception that really is exhausting.Another part that I found very evocative was the part about the girl who not just has to confirm to all the demands of society but also has to look pleasant and pleasing about it. It was really moving. I wondered about social media again in this struggle of both young boys and girls and how even their parents / significant others (as I have seen) can be restricted from participating in their real feelings thanks to social media. Am wondering about the balance therefore between safe/unsafe, supportive/supportive and private and public experiences for people.
I also found the narrative of the boy getting beaten by bully/thugs in the love letter- a little alien to our collective experience, and may be perceived as forced in the story. However, videos and stories going viral are experiences that students face. Instances can be of students taking videos of friends sleeping in not so favourable places, or as newspapers videos that have gone viral are of people in the privacy of changing rooms.
As a teacher I feel that this reaches students in the age range of 16 -18 – students in + 2 classes. Knowing some of the kids I work with, I feel this age group will be very receptive to the play and be a part of a dynamic discussion. Also, while I could see most of the play, I could not catch the bits on the floor because of the seating. Can I suggest a seating change for the audience? I am sure this is nothing big!