Saturday, 11 October 2014

The ensemble prepares


The shows at Jagriti start at 8pm each night and the actors go down to the theatre at 4 every day. First a line through, where people pair off and run their scenes. Paul alone has a deluge of monologues that he diligently goes through in his favourite chair.
After this a group warm up happens. The seven member cast form a circle and each day a different person leads the body warm up.

Today it was Paul's turn and the cyclical movement of the suryanamaskaram done in a circle was mesmerising to watch.
Next up is the voice warm up. Aparna lead the group in a new one that doubled up as a group massage.

Each actor by turn gets to lie in the centre while the other six give a synchronised massage while synchronising breath hand movement and voice. The massage looked amazing! I seriously considered abandoning the sketchbook to sneak in there somehow.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Jagriti Season 2014

For a second year in a row, Perch is at Jagriti's season. The second of five plays, we're here for two weeks. One week has flown past in all the frenzy and anxiousness of set up, lights, tech and getting an old play revived with some new actors in the cast. But with 4 shows and a rest day now under our belt, I finally pulled out my sketchbook.

One of the nicest things about performing at Jagriti is the studio apartment where the troupe stays. Its a large two storey apartment on the 7th and 8th floor with all the balconies overlooking the theatre. Today's show starts in 3 hours and the luxury of not having to commute but just take the lift down is indescribably amazing. Anyone who has ever been in Bangalore traffic will know what I mean.

6 more days and 7 more shows to go. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

First Show in Kandy

We had two shows of Jujubee in Kandy, both organised by the Catholic community there. Father Nandana, the Parish Priest of St. Antony's Cathedral in Kandy had mobilised everyone and they had really taken care of all our needs. The famous annual Buddhist festival of  Esala Perahara was to start in Kandy in two days. All hotels were booked out so Father Nandana had arranged for all of us to stay the first night at the Fatima Retreat in Lewella. That evening, which was our only free evening, we visited the famed Tooth Temple with Sam from NTT giving us a well informed tour.

The next morning we were up at dawn to leave for the venue of the first Show - Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy.
The actors checked out the hall and set up while the morning prayers were said over a microphone. John and I didn't have much to do. There were simple switches for a row of lights and we decided to just switch them on and leave them on.

It was the 125th year of the Convent. There were streamers and decorations all over the hall. One of the most memorable/ hilarious/ sheepish moments of the entire trip for us happened just before the show. We had woken up and eaten breakfast very early and just before the show everyone was really hungry. We were told snacks and tea was organised. We found a room behind the stage laid out with delicious snacks. Samosas in one corner, and then pyramids of egg sandwiches, fish and vegetable rolls, chocolate cake, coffee and juice. Needless to say everyone helped themselves greedily. Just then one of the volunteers looked in to check if we were Ok and was obviously stunned that we had started eating. Apparently only the samosas were meant as a pre-show snack and the whole thing was laid out for after the show. We were supposed to have tea and snacks with the School Principal and the Father!! Terrible sheepishness followed.
The morning show went off pretty well. The convent girls were a little older than the ideal age group,  also a little shy and very disciplined but by the end of it, they were clapping and squealing with enthusiasm. 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Off to Sri Lanka

As soon as we returned from Bangalore it was time to pack up and go to Srilanka. And when I say "pack up" I really mean it. Jujubee had been invited by NTT to do 6 shows in Kandy and Colombo and the large and lovely props made by Aarti had to be very carefully packaged to go as check-in baggage.
We were at the airport phenomenally early as requested by Srilankan airlines and they were so helpful that we had a lot of time to spare after check-in.
While doing this sketch, I stood with my sketchbook balanced on the handrail with a double volume space below me overlooking the concourse. Just as I finished and closed my book one of my pens fell down. I looked down and could see it there but no one passed by. I decided to take the escalator down to the boarding gates as it was almost time anyway but once downstairs I couldn't find my way back to the place where my pen was. Instead the labyrinthine corridors kept twisting away from the new building into the depths of the old airport and row upon row of musty handicraft shops! Ultimately I came all the way back and got a passing official to throw up my pen but the new airport remains a bit mysterious.
The flight to Colombo was just one hour with a lovely view of the Palk Strait. On the way down to land we hit some of the worst turbulence I've encountered in my memory. Colombo was covered in low rain clouds and at one point we suddenly dropped - I felt as though my stomach was in my throat but then we were out again and all you could see was blue water and the endless green of coconut trees.
Heading out of Bandaranaike airport we didn't go into Colombo since the first few shows were lined up in Kandy. There was a sleek 20 seater bus and Sam Perera from NTT waiting there for us - we were off to the hills!

Monday, 11 August 2014

A typical week at Rangashankara

Across the road from Rangashankara is Adithya, a typical Bangalore fast food joint. It opens early for breakfast and dishes out simple and delectable food all day through. Real value for money, there's regular stuff like idli and dosai, heavenly benne masala and some Karnataka specialities like neer dosai, open dosai and ragi dosai for breakfast. Full and hearty meals for lunch and in the evening when we're all feeling peckish before the show there is Paddu (kuzhi paniyarams), akki roti and kottakadubu.
The coffee at Adithya is pretty good stuff too and needless to say we spent a large part of our extra time (and money) there.
Another regular fixture in our week in RS was a sleeping Vedanth.

Okay, granted, that does not look like him but Vedanth had just become a father 10 days earlier and little Ameya was keeping him up on night duty so literally whenever he could get a few extra minutes he would use it well. The first half of the week was less hectic, we had single shows of Giraffe every evening but over the weekend there were shows of Jujubee in the morning and two shows of Giraffe after lunch. 

Sachin and Vedanth were the musicians for Jujubee and the first show on Friday morning, that had over 250 children in the audience was dedicated to little Ameya.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Giraffe moves into Rangashankara

One of the biggest changes to the play in this run of shows was a scene inserted into the middle of the prawn factory. That had to be rehearsed and blocked before the first show on the 22nd. It came out really well and I won't say more - do catch the show whenever you next can and see for yourself.

We did a total of 8 shows from tuesday to Sunday and every morning we would assemble for Rajiv's feedback session. The backdrop for this was invariably the same - the set in the configuration of the last scene from the previous show with Rajiv taking centre stage and enthralling us with the most "outstanding moments"  from the previous day.

John and I usually toss a coin at the start of a run, to decide who lights the first show. Frome there on we alternate shows. This had become a sort of ritual that the group looked forward to as we would fight about it and make it a best of 3 tosses, and then a best of 5 and finally a best of 7. But this time, much to everyones' disappointment we had made our decision on the train!
So I got to sketch Muddanna's light booth on the eve of the first show while J had to prepare.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Touring with Perch



After a quiet 1st half of 2014, these last few weeks have been a lot of travelling and all of it with Perch. There's still more to come in the next few months and so I decided to dedicate a sketchbook/journal just for my travels with Perch. And I'm already half-way through the book!

John and I travelled by the Shatabdi to reach the rest of the cast who were already in Bangalore a few days earlier rehearsing for "How to Skin a Giraffe".
We reached in time for lunch. The cast were rehearsing at Play Practice, a new space near Bangalore university and we were looking forward to catch a run-through to brush up on our lighting cues but when we reached we found them like this :)
Just kidding. That was a short nap after lunch.... as always. But we did catch the run through and there were several small changes and edits to the play making it crisper and helping with the flow of the narrative.

The next morning we would move into Rangashankara for tech and more rehearsal.... sketches of that to follow in the next post.