Posts Tagged ‘ranga shankara’

Theatre Review: “Monsters in the Dark”, Bangalore Little Theatre, Ranga Shankara, 270219

February 28, 2019


Cast and crew taking a bow after the performance.Photo: Deepa Mohan

“The Emperor of All Maladies”, a Pulitzer-winning book by Siddharth Mukherjee is an intense book about that dreaded “C” word…cancer, and looks at the dread ailment via multiple lenses…history, biography, describing the several discoveries, obstacles,triumphs and failures in humanity’s long journey with, and battle against, cancer.

To base a play on a book like this is a major challenge, and Bangalore Little Theatre rose up to that challenge with their play, which I watched at Ranga Shankara on the 27th of February, ’19. The theatre group had produced an excellent brochure, which described the play. I skimmed through it, wanting to let the theatre experience wash over me, without preconceptions.

The play was indeed as intense as the book; cancer is viewed like a kaleidoscope, from the opening scene of the “oncomice” (patented in the process of studying cancer), to how it feels to be diagnosed with the dread disease; from the scientists and doctors who made their contributions to the therapy, their right and wrong decisions; the ethics committees that sat in judgement on them, often hindering or stopping protocols; the suffering of cancer patients, the positivity and negativity they face from those around them, and the mental framework of the survivors. The references were more to leukaemia in children, which is a very emotional issue. The denouement and the climax of the play comes with a zing, and a hark-back to the beginning, that I cannot reveal without spoiling the suprise!

The stage design was well done; one area was designated as a kind of lab set up, where doctors and scientists could be seen pondering and worrying over tests and results; another, with two step-ladders (why did the two actors have to sit on different levels was never clear to me), represented the ethics committee’s sessions. A bench also became a hospital bed with the addition of a saline drip stand, and two chairs and a table at the left of the stage became an area where a friendship between two people blossoms into love, while one of them is diagnosed with cancer, though she is training to be an oncologist herself.

The costumes that the cast wore were very interesting. All of the cast, except for the character of the budding oncologist, wore very smart dungarees/overalls; the addition of coats, lab coats, or lace-edged ponchos demarcated the differentiation in the characters portrayed.

The dialogue was another very difficult part of the play, consisting, as it did, of many technical terms and names of protocols and processes. The playwrights tried to overcome this difficulty by simplifying as much as they could, and also using a blackboard to write some of the figures (such as 41,000 doctors who responded to a survey, or the names of the V.A.M.P protocol) so that they were clear to the audience. In spite of this, the jargon did tend to overwhelm us and we struggled, also, to keep up with the names of the doctors and scientists; some who wanted glory, and some who were truly dedicated. I must compliment the cast on their excellent command of these difficult lines, and the clear diction which ensured that the audience got the names well.

The music in the production was a major part of it. From the drum that heightened the tension in scenes, the music at every point underscored the narrative of the play, and the building tension of unfolding events. The eerie tune of “Three Blind Mice”m played on the harmonica, heightened the fact that not only the laboratory mice but the patients themselves, are sometimes the guinea pigs of those who try to work out a cure for this disease, trying new treatments and protocols on hapless sufferers.

The lighting was extremely effective too, highlighting the action at different parts of the stage, and picking up expressions such as Dastan’s amorous humour, Deeksha’s study-related tensions, or the sadness on Carla’s face as she realizes her illness. The darkness made space and time for the shifting of the stage props such as the benches, and stools, the positions for which were clearly marked on the floor of the stage.

The direction was one of the best parts of the production I watched; by being unseen, it was all the more effective. However, I would certainly suggest that a certain looseness in the production could be tightened up, which would also cut short the length of the play. I think, that with more stagings of the play, this may be done.

This is not a play for those who are looking for an evening of candy-floss escape from the real world; it brings the audience face to face with the enemy within us, that humanity has faced, fought, overcome and succumbed to, over time. It showed us how ambition or vainglory can sometimes trump compassion and empathy; but it also brought us the stories of those who conquered the illness, those who made breakthroughs in the treatments and ended with the statement that negated the title of the book on which it is based: “It is not the emperor of maladies”, but just the foe that must, and should, be conquered. A worthy effort by Bangalore Little Theatre, and I look forward to watching further productions of this play to see how it evolves.

Monsters in the Dark, by Bangalore Little Theatre
Ranga Shankara, 27 Feb ’19
75 min
Playwrights: Ravi Chari, Kavya Srinivasan
Directors: Murtuza Khetty, Deepak Mote
Costumes and Set: Aruna Nori
Cast: Abhishek Sundaravadanan, Deepthi Adappa, Disha Mittal, Khyati Raja, Meera Girijan, Minti Jain, Paawan Mukker, Prabha Venkatesh, Ratneshwar Bannerghaee, Shreekant Road, Shreya Sen, Sneha Sridhar, Vignesh Suresh
Backstage: B N Rangashre, Vinay Kambappa, Vaidya Ojha
Music: Aniruddh G, Harmonica
Tickets: Rs.200

Production supported by a grant from Kusum and Mohandas Pai and contributions from Bangalore Little Theatre, Health and Humanities, St. John's Research Institute, and Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.

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“Bali” at Ranga Shankara, 230219, by Adishakti

February 26, 2019

It had been quite a while since I went to Ranga Shankara for a play, and the blurb about “Bali” was interesting enough to pull me in. Here’s the quotation from the excellent brochure that was handed out before the play:

“Adishakti’s Bali is a retelling of the various events that lead up to the battle between Bali and Ram and eventually, the death of Bali. The play explores the notion of right and wrong, and how it may change when each and every character is given an opportuntiy to voice their thoughts and opinions.”

With this intriguing introduction, I went in to watch the play, and it did not disappoint. From the very first scene, the intensity of the tension was kept up. The play did not always proceed in a linear fashion, but used a pastiche of scenes to put over the premise, that what is right or wrong changes according to who is telling the story…Bali, Tara, Sugriva, Angadha, Ram…or Ravan.

bali, RS, 230219
The cast and crew take a bow after the performance.

Let me discuss the technical aspects of the production first. The actors were all very lithe and some of the choreography reminded me of Kalaripayattu move in the agility. This contributed a lot to the denouement of the narrative.

The actors were all quite word perfect, and there was not a single “flub” in the production I watched.Since no masks were used (I was wondering if they would be), facial expressions came across clearly, and indeed, in several scenes, were intensified to nearly a mime effect.

The music was excellent throughout. The audience responded to the music as much as to the action on stage, and it heightened the intensity to a great degree. When the music stopped, the silences were quite as eloquent.

The costumes were what I call “contemporary ethnic”. While not precisely ethnic, they were in the flowing, easy lines, enabling easy mobility; a couple of “filmy” costumes notwithstanding, they felt quite authentic. The little tableau of Vali and Sugriva twitching up the ends of their dhotis to tie up at the waist was very entertaining, and one of the few times I have seen costumes form a part of the action!

The stage was, intriguingly, completely bare, and apart from a kind of stand in the “theru koothu” presentation scenes, continued so. This put more pressure on the cast to take forward the play without the help of props…another unusual feature, in a play set on a mythological figure. The few props that were used, such as stones,rolling balls, and ropes, were sometimes understandable, sometimes (as in the scene of two women alternately reaching for the stones and fighting over them) a little obscure.

The lighting was also of a very high order. Characters were highlighted, the colours changed with the mood in the action, and the lighting enhanced the mood of the play at every scene.

The play alternated between a “regular” stage and a “theru koothu” (street plays of Tamil Nadu”) format. In the latter, more exaggeration was permitted, to convey the ideas and emotions. The cast, too, were dressed in more allegorical costumes.

Given all these technical inputs, the play effectively put across its message. Though some parts were still a little puzzling ( I never worked out the character of the female companion of Tara…who was she, what did she represent?) in the main, the high energy of the play sustained throughout the performance, and set the audience to introspecting….what is right or wrong? Who is an enemy, who is a friend? Can someone be slain in secret? Can another man’s wife be taken as one’s own, as part of victory? (Rama’s hidden slaying of Vali is, through the centuries, one of the most controversial part of the Ramayana.) We, as an audience, felt, in fact, drained at the end of the performance, having sustained an emotional and energy high through the 70-minute performance.

I am also intrigued by calling the play “Bali” instead of “Vali”. The wiki entry on Vali tells me that the name is often spelt Bali in many Indian languages, but to me, the name is Vali, so I am still wondering if there was a specific reason to spell it in the Bengali/Assamese/Oriya way.

I was very impressed by the direction. Such high-energy productions can easily run away with the narrative or the emotions, and to guide the performance and yet not be seen to be obviously doing so, is quite a feat!

All in all, not one of the light-entertainment plays that one goes to, to get away from the stresses and strains of the everyday world, but one that made me feel, and think, intensely. Hats off to Adishakti, and I hope I will get the chance fo watch more of their work!

“Bali”, by Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts Research
Written and directed by Nimmy Raphael
Cast: Vinay Kumar, Arvind Rane, Ashiqa Salvan, Kiyomi Mehta, Rijul Ray
Music arragned and composed by Vinay Kumar and played by Meedhu Miriyam
Music for the Tara/Bali scene composed by Kirtana Krishna and Vinay Kumar
Lights designed by Vinay Kumar, executed by Anand Satheendran
Creative Guidance: Anmol Vellani and Vinay Kumar
Prodcution Managers: Apoorva Arthur and Bhairavi
Costumes designed by Viji Roy
Duration: 75 min.

Walk to Ranga Shankara, 091018

October 9, 2018

My walk to Ranga Shankara, in terms of smells.
The ground coffee from the darshini.
The heady aroma of the Akasha Mallige.
Frying onions from an unknown source.
Agarbathi or dhoop fragrance from a nearby window, part of the evening worship. A waft of strong perfume from a lady whizzing by on the back of a scooter. Punctuating all these, and vitiating them, the stench of accumulations of garbage.
My city is a nasal smorgasbord.

Chidiyon ka pinjra, Ranga Shankara, 151114: Theatre review

November 17, 2014

found that

this review

has said it all equally well!

The only thing I have to add is that I am sorry that there was no brochure, and no introduction of the cast and crew…two things that always add to my enjoyment of a play.

Bade Miyaan Deewane: Play Review, 080614

June 9, 2014

here

is my review of the Hindustani play that I went to watch at Ranga Shankara yesterday.

Another excellent review is

here

The story of the play, as given by Ranga Shankara:

The play is essentially about a rich and eccentric octogenarian, who is used to a luxurious and flamboyant lifestyle. He is swept off his feet by a beautiful young girl in his neighborhood, who also happens to be the love interest of his son.

Meer Sahab falls for his neighbour’s young daughter. His son, Tabish, is also in love with the same girl and wants to marry her. Sheikh Sahab, on the other hand, wants his daughter to marry a dynamic man. Shaukat, a charming young writer, is an acquaintance of both Meer Sahab and Sheikh Sahab. Shaukat is a genuine well-wisher of Meer Sahab, who wants him to stop splurging his wealth on his tawaif (Heera & Gulab) and return to his good old days. Meer Sahab wants Shaukat to convince Sheikh that he is a great prospect for his daughter and at the same time, Sheikh wants Shaukat to counter Mir Sahab’s advances and teach him a lesson.

“Stories in a Song”: Play Review

March 13, 2012

click here

to read the review of the play in Citizen Matters

Promiscuity…what does it mean?

September 2, 2011

For my review of the play, “Amrita”, directed by the noted film-maker, M S Sathyu,

click here

Watching this play, and doing the reading required before and after watching, I fell to musing. Today, I’d say Amrita Pritam was a woman not bound by “middle-class morality”. But by that standard of middle-class morality, a not-too-pleasant adverb would have been used to describe her: promiscuous.

What IS promiscuity? is the question that now makes me think. To my mind….promiscuity is the rapid changing of sexual, and possibly emotional, partners. In fact, I think emotional promiscuity must be even more usettling for the partners in a relationship, than sexual promiscuity…the “one-night stand” is a well-documented feature of sexual relations between human beings…but an emotional relationship is usually invested with the notion of at least some length of time…so a partner who quickly changes hes affections can be a difficult person to deal with.

Even by this reckoning, I don’t find Amrita Pritam promiscuous. Her relationships…with her husband, that did not work within the marital framework, with her lover, Sahir Ludhianvi, and later, her long-standing partnership with Imroze….speak of a deep involvement of the mind and heart, not a passing romantic whim. Friendship, and literary efforts, seem to have been the backbone of her two extra-marital relationships.

However…in Indian society, a woman who leaves her husband, has an affair with another man, and then lives with a third…would certainly be branded promiscuous, and attract the censure and disgust of the average “middle-class” person. And yet…so often, I find these same members of the middle-class being very forgiving towards those with the creative temperament, who lead unconventional lives…”When Saraswathi bestows the creative urge on a man or woman,” said a very staid old aunt of mine, “She also bestows some ‘quirks’.” Quirks, presumably, meaning a disregard of the social conventions! Several movie actors have had a succession of wives and “consorts”, and they were not less the objects of public adulation for all that variety..in fact, there is often a sneaking admiration for the Lotharios of the film world!

So…my conclusion is, if I, as a Tambram housewife, take a succession of lovers, it will be promiscuity…but if I am a film star or a celebrity…then a lot of “moral lapses” are overlooked by the Mango Public (Aam Janta)! Double standards are alive and well and kicking over the icons of conformity….

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How the day gets hijacked…mostly MY fault!

August 27, 2011

Today…was supposed to be a day of intense writing. Having watched the play, “Amrita, A Sublime Love Story”, at Ranga Shankara, I am supposed to do the research on Amrita Pritam (and her abiding love for the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi) and write the review for City Buzz. (I typed City Buss…!) Then, for Citizen Matters, I am writing about Priya Venkatesh’s trip to the South Pole…the first woman from Bangalore to have visited this continent.

So what happens? I go for a walk with KM and two of our friends who live in Muscat. Then I go to the garage to give in the car for tinkering and painting and get back by bus. The power, and the UPS, both fail throughout the morning and I cannot use my laptop after the battery fails. I get a call from the Bank that my internet activation kit has arrived, and rush to pick it up. I realize that I must send the acknowledgement form by post, so it’s off to the Post Office. Then I realize I’d better try and activate AM’s account, for which I’ve sent off the acknowledgement form about 10 days ago (presumably they’ve got it now…they won’t deign to let me know, of course!)

So it’s 3.15 pm now, and instead of getting started on the review, at least (oh yes, I’ve just *opened* the wiki about Amrita Pritam:

read the wiki, her life is fascinating!

and then, instead of going ahead with the task, I am, of course, writing this! I definitely am a citizen of a different nation….Procrasti Nation.

OK, let me crack the whip over myself, and get to the salt mines now…

Nati BInodini at Ranga Shankara..

November 4, 2008

I went to see the opening play of the 2008 Theatre Festival at Ranga Shankara , and did not expect to be transported back to my childhood days….but nostalgia took hold of me as I revisited the days when I used to watch various Bengali plays at the famous Star Theatre ….

The play was about Binodini, the star of the theatre scene in 19th century Kolkata, who wrote an honest autobiography, “Aamaar Kothaa”…about ambition,love, betrayal and talent….and this has been adapted by Amal Allana and brought to the stage in a very powerful, intense production.

The costumes, as replicated from that era, were lavish and colourful…and since I want to do a proper review, I will just post some of the scenes from this production.

The stage properties were lavish:

a few more scenes from the play

Photography vs. the Message….

October 28, 2008

This is a clear illustration of what a photograph means to different people.

I wanted to post a message for Deepavali on my blog, and decided to try out online editing on Photobucket and I chose a (yes, I admit it) somewhat random photograph for the trial, and since I was running out of time, posted the pic with the message added.

Comments as usual were few, but when I met a friend over the weekend, I asked why s/he had not commented. “Why did you choose THAT photograph?” this person asked.

To this person, the quality of the photograph is more important than the message, so the feeling was that the less-than-desired quality of the photograph did not merit a reciprocal comment.

To me, the documentation of the message (“Happy Deepavali”) is more important than whether the flowers are in focus and crisp and clear and the photo is well-composed.

Different strokes for different folks! Now, when I see no comments, I don’t know if it’s the bad photograph that people are refraining from criticising, or the message itself is not important enough for them to respond to…

Hm. Something to be mulled over!

So meanwhile, here’s a less-than-perfect, but to me, lovely photograph of the very pretty girl who played the part of the heroine of “Choon Hyang”, a Korean musical by 20 children from Theatre Seoul, the review of which I will be putting up on Citizen Matters shortly…. it was a wonderful way to spend a birthday, with friends, watching children from a land far away, dance, and sing, and entertain us…..

A thing (or a human being) of beauty IS a joy forever!

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