Within the final week of November, the Nationwide Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai organised a three-day competition to mark its 50th anniversary. The place remodeled right into a bustling group centre with a busy schedule of cultural actions. I swung by to lastly catch Yuki Ellias’ much-talked-about one-woman present, Elephant within the Room. This present, a unusual retelling of the adventures of younger Ganesha, has been a runaway success, bagging a couple of Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, and having had profitable excursions in Australia, Edinburgh, and Hong Kong. Ellias’s efficiency, the place she performs many characters with totally different voices and physique language, is sort of a feat, and he or she goes by the 60 minutes tirelessly.
The play made me consider different one-actor exhibits I had watched. I’ve at all times been in awe of the boldness and stamina of actors who tackle such exhibits. I’ve by no means produced or directed a solo efficiency. We’ve executed a sequence of monologues, however I’m referring to full-length solo items.
One of many earliest I noticed was The Remaining Rehearsal, throughout one in all our Thespo years. Pawan Kumar, now an acclaimed Kannada movie director, acted and directed. He deservedly gained greatest actor. Ali Fazal, presently capturing with Gal Gadot for a Kenneth Branagh movie adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel, as soon as did a riveting present of Scaramouche Jones, about an ageing clown. It was a piece in progress, however an inspiring efficiency nonetheless. Different Indian productions I can recall being somewhat impressed by embody 9 Components of Need, carried out by Ira Dubey, Shakkar ke Paanch Daane, a tour de power by Kumud Mishra, C Sharp C Blunt, carried out by singer-actress M.D. Pallavi, and naturally Einstein, carried out somewhat fittingly by Naseeruddin Shah. Seema Pahwa does an attention-grabbing solo efficiency known as Saag Meat, throughout which she prepares the mutton dish of the title, and serves it to the viewers in the long run. A few of these performances are inclined to get very bodily, like most of Jyoti Dogra’s much-acclaimed one-woman exhibits, because the actor has nothing however himself or herself to maintain the viewers engaged. It’s a robust efficiency.
Globally, a sequence on Amazon Prime known as Fleabag has develop into fairly a phenomenon. What’s attention-grabbing is that it began off as a one-woman present with the identical title, written and carried out by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who’s now fairly a family title.
One other play I lastly caught was a two-hander. Mosambi Narangi, primarily based on Stones in His Pockets by Marie Jones, carried out by Ajeet Singh Palawat and Rajit Kapur. 120 minutes of two actors enjoying a number of characters with vitality ranges staying approach up there. I caught the actors between two exhibits, they usually had been visibly and justifiably exhausted.
We’ve had fairly a couple of distinguished two-handers. Expensive Liar, carried out by Ratna Pathak Shah and Naseeruddin Shah, which chronicles letters written by George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell to one another over a span of 40 years. Love Letters, that includes Shernaz Patel and Rajit Kapur; and Tumhaari Amrita, that includes Shabana Azmi and the late Farooq Sheikh, additionally handled the change of letters, and had vastly profitable runs. A Marathi play, White Lily and Night time Rider, a love story set in chatrooms, additionally made some critical waves. One in every of my favourites stays Abhishek Majumdar’s Gasha, that includes Adhir Bhat and Sandeep Shikhar, which instructed a poignant story of Kashmir.
The 2-hander is sort of standard internationally. Most budding theatre individuals try The Zoo Story by Edward Albee. Indian theatre teams have at all times been fascinated with performs like Educating Rita and Similar Time Subsequent Yr. We’ve had latest productions of Constellations, Guards on the Taj, and Venus in Fur. Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapur additionally starred in a really topical adaptation of A Stroll within the Woods, during which two diplomats of nations with worrying relations develop a much less worrying private relationship.
Like solo performances, the actors must do a variety of heavy lifting, and their chemistry is vital. We’ve tried a couple of two-handers of our personal. A Man Factor (initially The Soiled Discuss) by Michael Puzzo did very properly. With two heartthrobs in it, Ali Fazal and Neil Bhoopalam, it’s a hilarious play in regards to the complexities of being a person. We additionally tried Blackbird, a darkish play about paedophilia, with Akash Khurana and Shernaz Patel, and Tuesdays With Morrie, once more with Khurana enjoying the ailing professor. Each performs had an extra feminine cameo, however featured two actors for essentially the most half.
Personally, I favor a couple of extra individuals within the rehearsal room. Camaraderie comes with crowds. However that’s the director (and foodie) in me talking. The producer in me would love solo performances. Can there be a play more cost effective and travel-friendly than that?
The theatre producer and director is commonly broke. To manage, he writes and directs movies and internet sequence and infrequently acts, albeit reluctantly.