Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The daaeth of European drama

So I finally did it. The 4000 mile schlep across the seven seas to the haven of Bangalore theatre. Not just once but twice over.My motivation? Free tickets kindly supplied by a cousin to watch her play: An adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Cherry Orchard, called "City of Gardens". Well it was fun alright. The seating was on mattresses arranged amphitheatre-style, close to the stage. The acting was great and so was the Bangalorification of the play, though I think deeper character sketches might have made them a tad more convincing

The second play was - yawn - a done-to-death adaptation of Woyzeck: one of those dreary European plays where everyone dies. The acting was stodgy and faw-faw, and the original storyline, bleh as it was, was drawn out over 2 agonizing hours. Every so often, the hero would tumble dramatically off a cardboard box and play dead, much to the relief of the audience, only to spring back to life moments later and set off on another mind numbing monologue. My life hit rock bottom when one of the side actors (in a Vishnuvardhan style moustache and beret) climbed up on a box and talked about "daaeth". The background music was an unnervingly Indian sounding hodge-podge of various European classical composers, painstakingly named in the playbill. A vaguely admirable part of the play, however, was the set: a bizarrely painted backdrop with lots of doors and windows, that was reused as a rowhouse, a tavern and a wall for the hero to pee on.

All in all - fbbthbbp. I don't know what they were aiming at. If it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it worked somewhat. But if not, did they really expect to be taken seriously when the gloriously tanned hero was accused of looking "white as a sheet", or when they played chutneyed Dvorak at a tavern in small-town Germany??!! Tsk.

All said and done though, I think the overall Rangashankara experience was worth the monster schlep across town. For one, it was amazing to see so many identically dressed people in there. The collection of terra-cota jewellery, mat chappals and handloom prints in the audience could make Fab India look like Laxmi blouse-piece junction in comparison. The kid at the door gave me a "you don't deserve a playbill" look as I walked in. Luckily the sabudana vadas and the coffee at the cafe had put me in a good mood by then, so he barely escaped being strangled with his own jhola bag.

So yeah, I'll go again, But togged in my artsy-fartsy best this time, so I can look all intense and theatre-circuity. I'll atleast be guaranteed a playbill that way.

Honourable mentions: J for going gaaahahahaha during the most serious parts of the play, and A for being official shusher of the group: they'd better pay you for doing that the next time :)

Cartoon: "Go and adjust yourself at the back, girlie." - Line from Premaloka (kannada) starring Ravichandran Vishnuvardhan and Juhi Chawla.


??! said...

The kid at the door gave me a "you don't deserve a playbill" look as I walked in

You went in leather-wear?

Karan said...

Haan, they have decent five rupees coffee there.

You sawed those photos on the walls? Vivek has shot some of those.

But good you reached on time otherwise the bastards don't let you enter. Imagine, you go THAT far, and they don't let you enter - yes, happened to me. Hate them for that. Disturbs the artists it seems.

Were they distributing Vodafone posters with awesomely funny ads when you went too?

PS: verification word: zjdyrk

Aishwarya said...

Ah Woyzeck - the working class tragedy! I find dark and serious topics are difficult to deal with and I haven't known very many theatre groups doing a good job of handling them. And Chekhov I find is becoming popular in theatre circles. A Delhi-based group called Asmita did a fantastic adaptation of Chekhov's comedy plays. Incidentally, have you watched 'Waiting for Godot' by Naseeruddin Shah & Benjamin Gilani? Brilliant. No fancy stage. Single focus lighting. 2 great actors. Sheer brilliance of dialogue delivery. Btw, although I don't quite subscribe to a dress-code, it IS nice to don a kurta+jhola no? Feels good :)

Hakuna Matata said...

LMAO!! That was quite a revisit to the 'Black Bakhai' a friend and I hazarded during last years Bangalore Habba!!

A.S. said...

Yeah I too liked the set of Woyzeck, especially when in its tavern form... but during the show we went to, we could see the feet of the people walking over it... was kinda funny.
I did enjoy the violent way in which Woyzeck kept falling and getting kicked.
The acting was quite terrible-- the guys couldn't even pretend that the bottle of brandy had liquid in it.

@ Karan- I love the fact that they close the doors 5 minutes before the show and start it on time. I have been 10 min late and missed it. But I prefer that to a continuous stream of Indian Stretchable Timers and Bengaluru-raffic-blamers trooping in during the performance. As is despite all the warnings, there're always stupid people who don't switch off/silence their mobiles.

maxdavinci said...

Jholas and terracota reminds me of the kutcheri audience uniform..

seriously, what were you wearing?

Arunk said...

> All in all - fbbthbbp. I don't
> know what they were aiming at
> though. If it was meant to be
> tongue-in-cheek, it worked somewhat
So I guess "fbbbthbbp" is the result being (literally) tongue-in-cheek :) ?


gradwolf said...

You went in wearing some Rohit Bal eh? :p

Rukmani Ram said...

seriously, jholla best reminds me of the one time i went to the chennai kucheris in non kutcheri clothes. i never had the guts to go back again, though

Anonymous said...

Sangeeta Sarma to Dramachari - You are an All Arts Rasikamurthy, I say! Wundrafful Raja! So jholas to drama for authentic Dramachari feel huh! Nice!

Scribbler said...

Clapclapclapclapclap. Good to know you went, men, and thank the lord and the infant Jesus and St Anthony, you and I both had the same opinion about that Woyzeck play. For me, it was an experience on par with watching Titanic--you wait for people to die, but they just don't, the buggers.

I have to agree with a.s. Thank goodness for Ranga Shankara being punctual and insisting on punctuality. If you go for the English plays, the crowd is a rickshaw-taking, car/bike-driving one, but if you go for a Kannada play, there is actually a goodly proportion of the crowd that then goes and dutifully stands at the bus stop, waiting for a bus. Some nice aunties among them. A little late and the play goes on too long and they miss their bus and have to wait a while longer...

sanjana said...

Laxmi blouse piece junction!! bwahahahahahahah.. LMAO!!


P:s the song is "hogamma" hudugi!! :D

Bikerdude said...

?!!, maxdavinci, gradwolf: No I say some narmal shirt-pent I put and went. I think it was my non-snooty expression that was the give away.

karan: haan the coffee was nice. Yes I heard about that and barely managed to squeak in on time. No voda no phone nothing they gave :(

aishwarya: I think Im going to take a theatre break for a bit. NOt just because of the monster schlep or the pompous jhola crowd though. I don't know how the costume makes normal people turn into supercilious umm errs. Ah well if you cant beat em...

hakuna matata: Sounds like someone throwing up no? :)

a.s: Yeah the dude did take some painful tumbles - not to mention totally roughing up the heroine, who looked like she'd die before she took her last bow poor thing.

arunk: Heh heh good one :p

rukmani: Really? I thought Chennai was the one place you could go however you wanted. Whats a chennai kutcheri dress? Ive gone in tshirt jeans and chappals and all.

sthitapragnya: Hope I got the spelling right. Yellinda huduktheera pa intha hesarugalella? Huyn?! Heh and thanks!

scribbler: And clapclapclap to you for watchng Cannareeeeese plays 'n' all men. I'm sure they were tons better.

sanjana: Oops noted and corrected, thyanks ri :)

Meera said...

One woman's "intense, impressive" is another man's "stodgy and faw-faw". See Deepa Mohan's review at Citizen Matters .
Well, to each his/her own!

Prats said...

I'm sure in a few more visits to the esteemed'll have ur bearings right and wear the rigth attire and of course know exactly how many minutes before if you go, you'll get those yummy vadas...and also eat and enjoy...
but I wonder if I can ever go in there and not keep wondering about Woyzeck!!!!

maami said...

Ahem ( adjusting jhola bag strap, shaking mud off Kolhapuris and letting the crease stay on crumpled kurta), Boss, you not liking the play, wokay, no problem.
But why you simply simply taking name of Vishnuvardan like that and all?I had lost my heart to him when I watched him first in 'Gaali maathu' with Lakshmi maami and later playing Feroz Khan's role in Tamil version of 'Gurbanee', sorry 'Qurbani'. Lurverly hero I say.

Anonymous said...

oh my u atlast made it huh!

my pehla pehla exp was simply nice must say.

i was the shusher and frenz not losing a chance to voice their opinions even before the play commenced, dnt understan the imp of silence what with GK in that lovely grumpy voice announcing to shush/shut the mobile up.

Gals n guys clinging to their western wear and aunties in their clean pressed clothes bejewelled with lovely accessories and long bindis give a complex even to the lil ones.

last time i was thr i kept looking at this guy in the eatery making his gal go slightly sore - alas and alack. All this only to catch u(at RS).


Anonymous said...

'Tis me.

Totalment agree wid you Dude. I had the misfortune of schellping 3728 miles across town to see the ^^#@%&()! play "The Woman in Me" by Sumbody Or Odher.

Much screaming-at-top-of-lungs in lieu of acting, and peeing against the shower curtain naaasense.

The only thing that died was my spirit to be arty-farty that day.

Although I did enjoy Ms. Arundhati Nag's company v. much at another event later. She agreed with me that that play wasn't the bestest.

RS cafe is very good, yes. Fab. fab food.

Scribblers Inc said...

clappity clappity....I had a theatre experience myself at Delhi IIT but it went better...there was a Mohan Agashe play called "par hamein khelna hai" which was tolerable...another was where one decides to commit suicide and calls upon an agency to help him out...enna nice mostly!! welcome back!!

Scribblers Inc.

P.S.-Scribblerooloo too I say!!

narendra shenoy said...

Thoroughly enjoyed! I've been to a fair number of amateur theatricals, some really memorable. My favorite is a performance of Julius Caesar where, you would recall, Brutus stabs Caesar. Caesar dutifully dies. But in the performance I refer to, said JC fell down as per script and, when the cast and the audience were savoring the moment in silence, farted loudly. Deep bass, resonant and full bodied. Displaying a sense of timing worthy of Lawrence Olivier, Brutus looked at the audience, exclaimed "Ah! Signs of life!" and stabbed him again.

It took fifteen minutes for the audience to get off the floor and back into their chairs.

Rukmani Ram said...

@bikerdude: kutcheri clothes- silk saree/salwar kameez. other fabrics accepted, but not preferred. hair in braid or bun, with flowers of different colours. (flowers in only one color accepted only if they are atleast half a metre long)

In case you didn't know yet, it doesn't matter what the guys are wearing.

Abhipraya said...

ROTFL :D "so many identically dressed people in there. The collection of terra-cota jewellery, mat chappals and handloom prints in the audience could make Fab India look like Laxmi blouse-piece junction in comparison"

My thoughts exactly! First time I went to watch the play I went Ayyooo I forgot my kalamkari bag and terracota shoes! Although you see less of them during Kannada plays. And I am all for their punctuality. I am one of those running after silkboard bus people :)

anoushka taraporevala said...

hey biker dude: i have just returned from a short sojourn in your city this weekend and there was no play shlay in rangasharda or even in laxmi cut piece center, for me to maul. i had a wonderful time pub hopping, yes, on a saturday.

The Quark said...

Someone please explain to me how plays like this and King Lear thrive today. Start with 20 million characters and end with none, so much so that you go and kill the king of a neighbouring nation also.

10yearslate said...

Saahebre, bandhni ree! Solp thada aathu, sitt-geLbyaadri! Hingaath nod-ree, num phamlly, hudgoor karkoNd eejaadaak hogidhvi, Great Barrier Reef-ge.

(Sir, i've come sir! Little late happened, angry-climb don't! Like this happened, my wife, kids took along swimming went Great Barrier Reef)

Dhar-vomme heLtheen-ree, neev-ellaar bhaaL naagreek addheeri!

(Every time I say, you all too much civilised are!)

Nummooraag, GuLedgudda samajika natak company avara 'Goudra Gaddhla' nodaak sikkr ruggd aath bid-ri.

(In our town, GuLedgudda social drama company's "Farmers' hi-jinks" to see if we get, it is too much, leave it-sir)

BhaaL sentiment ree, avva iddhaaki, guLo anth aLkonth "Pakeerappaaa" anth cheeraaki...side dindh hero maga, meesi thiruvkonth "Kardh-yaen bae yavva?"anth jigudh baraava...alalala..yaen chappaLi, yaen seeti hodeethaar..aen heLaak-ree?

(Too much sentiment sir, mother, riverful crying, "Pakeerappaa" screaming..from side, hero son, moustache twirling "Called me mother?" saying, leaps onto stage..ohohoho..what applause, what whistle hitting..what can I say sir?)

KaNNaag neer barso Inthaadh nodoodh bitt yeneno eddhva-thaddhva nodtheeralla?

(In eyes, water bringing like this watching leaving and something-something rubbish-gibbish seeing only no?)

10yearslate said...

@narendra shenoy,

Very good one re Caesar. You will be pleased to know this thawed the scowly face of shrimati-ji into a smile, the likes of which are a fond, distant memory.

Bikerdude said...

meera: Ah wokay ma, kindly convey apologies to parties concerned :P

prats: Correct alla, second time I went they were all sold out , the uselesses.

maami: At age 1000 he still does the same roles I say. What a brilliant fellow he must be no?

RSC: Yes yes coming coming. But this time for Canadian play only.

ahumanbean: Ah come come. Oh you also lieu this side of town aa? I want to be artsy-fartsy but at the right things men.

scribblers inc: Thanks thanks. Indian theatre is a lot more believable by and large though, wouldnt you say?

narendrashenoy: Gaaaaaaaahahaha good one :) :)

rukmani ram: Heh heh gulp ok :P

abhipraya: I say, pl recommend some nice Kannada plays for me to watch no? I dont want my first Kannada theatre exp to be a damp squib.

anoushka: Err I think you were better off pub hopping men. Coincidentally, I was too! What are the odds eh ;) What play shlay and all you'll leave your lovely bombay theatre to come and see in the provinces.

the quark: Theatre is pain and DEATH I tell you. Or DAAAETH in this case. Heh.

10years: Ushh bandra konege. Good good. Nim twin-towns'ina nataka tumba famous alvenri? Naagareekatheyandre nim hatra kalibeku. Heh@ GuLo antha crying heheh.

Scribbler said...

Bikerdude-anna, we shall ask the Ranga Shankara security guard for recommendations. He watches only some plays and skips others. I swear he only watches the good ones, and the only time I've seen him in for the entire play, it was excellent (a Kannada musical--forgotten the name).

Anonymous said...

some time back only i went to this play called sankramana...

me, mom, fren, frenz mom and driver joining us.

Play started, only 3 characters and all 3 had to deliver their monologues for 70/3 minutes.

by the time i could understand what was happening sihi kahi chandru had completed his part and left.

Manjunath hegde did a great job and his mom's part was ok.

all in all, a nice play which both moms enjoyed. they also felt they saw their own respective hubby's in SKC. it was a everyday mane mane kathe.

Play ended n me asked mom how was it.. this is what she said...
ond whistle hodililla, curtains were not drawn nor did i find any1 eating kadlepuri in front rows.

then it was the drivers turn, this was what he had to say.
esht hothnalli naatka aadthara.. nam ovrnalli raathri hoth play, esht dudh andhidhre naan barthane irlilla n so on n so forth...

i havn't seen a play els where other than RS n i find it nice and the tickets too are not expensive at all compared to the multiplexes.

n i love the gaali gandha of RS.

a hard core fan of rangashankara.

welcoming u with chappaale.

gugiinsingapore said...

Oranges I am, but the one time I went to RS, I so dressed the part and that was the main attraction for me. Play was a morbid 'Victoria Wants To Die' or soemthing like that, so I am glad all I cared about was my arty clothes, jewellery, make up, chappals and of course checking out if anyone else was as chic-artily done up as me.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post... tee hee hee... the Fab India thing is oh... too true!

kumar said...

bikerdude premaloka was ravichandrans movie man not vishnuvardhans how can you do dis hope the Karave folks dont see dis

Bikerdude said...

scribbler: Arre excellent idea I say.

anonymous: Heh@sihi kahi chandru :) Thanks for the welcomu, and sadya you didnt welcome me with chappali!

gugi: Beta next time come we both will go and show 'em how its done what say?

anon: heh thanks

kumar: Aa wokay agreed (and corrected) thanks, but VV was the proffessor who sings baramma hudugi alle hinde adjust madko.. allvey?

Anonymous said...

I don't go for dramas and plays ...but after reading your blog i got to know what happens!!!

Uh oh...

Anonymous said...

>>gloriously tanned hero was accused of looking "white as a sheet",

hahahah!! funny blog as usual

moi - the ghost and sometimes not ghost reader

10yearslate said...

Aen ree vichaar, hosaadh yenaadhroo bareetheero heng?

(What sir thinking, new anything writing or what?)

Post-ge Idea bekandhr hidee-ri

(Idea want means, catch sir)

"De-construction of Urban xenophobia in post-colonial India"

Aithaar oLag bardh haakri, marks kodtheeni.
(Sunday inside write and put-sir, marks will give)

Pettai Maami said...

entra saar...all wokay vonly no?? y these long gaps?? found yuvarself a chippie at rangashakara haaala?? do post, you do remember ppl wait fr yr posts na?? final warning aan!!!


Aishwarya said...

Enna achhe da?

Abhipraya said...


Ninasam's Thirugaata is in town try to catch their plays. They are usually good. But don't think it is happening in RS though. And any day Benaka plays are best option esp their Kailasam Nenapu is a great intro to Kannada theatre.

Anu said...

Hey Dude wherefore art thou?

bluejay said...

Hey..long post! come on!! waiting :)

Tejaswini Mathad said...

haaa..ha...thanks for keeping me laughing. I am visiting your blog for the first time and man such treasure..

Tejaswini Mathad said...

I pass by Rangashankara everyday while I go for work and today I laughed and was trying hard to stifle my laughter, the auto driver was flummoxed and his face was a question mark?? With due respect to people running the show at Rangashankara, you’ve successfully managed to present it in a comical way !!!! Auto driver was like “errr madam, enaitu ??” 
Are you some Seinfeld of Bengalluru ??? :D Please take it as a compliment, I consider him very intelligent.

Tys on Ice said...

okie then...

i discovered ur blog thru another blogger ...seriously

i intend to read all ur tht will invariably mean a comment for each...if iam not too drunk by the end of it ( iam on my 4th), this will mean a lasting relationship....loving it.

the last time i tried being artsy fartsy was when i went for a play called Art in had that rahul bose in it...surprisingly i enjoyed it...

being the son in law of a playwright ( did i spell that rite?), one is required to be arty...but i think hes already seaching in the market for a new son in law...wht can i say?..i been known to walk out of a shakesperean play done in dubai by the special needs children...cudnt stand othello becoming a joke and i hate the people who made those kids try and conform....

Akshaya Shivkumar said...

Interesting blog, although I have been hovering around too long for your next post!
Keep writing!

Suchi said...

Found your blog via a serendipitious (whew!) route but loved it at first sight. You are PRICELESS! Keep the commentary coming!

New Fan

Reflections said...

there should have been a post in by now. Playback singing must be paying quite well huh;-P the meantime we are still waiting. Just see if u can squeeze a post in between the jingles:-D

Anonymous said...

Aa yes, yenri idhu?
no posts? said...

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