"Common Man" at Ranga Shankara
Yours Truly Theatre is putting up “Common Man”, an interactive theatre effort, at Ranga Shankara, today, the 2nd of April, and tomorrow, the 3rd of April.
I went with a couple of my friends and found that as a foretaste of the play, they had a small piece called “Life in a Frame” in the foyer. I wish I had known this, as I do like to watch anything that is to do with the play. I did see Rasheed Kappan’s cartoons, though I wondered if there was any copyright infringemen issues with R K Laxman! I also liked the innovative poster that advertised the play:
At the beginning of the play, Ranji David (though he didn’t introduce himself, he was the director of the play, along with Nandini Rao) told us about how interactive theatre would work; the set script would take the audience halfway, and at that point, the audience would interact and decide the way the play wanted to go, and end; and the cast would then proceed to “play” that script.
The Common Man faces many situations, all of them “ordinary”; he grows up, gets educated, gets married, follows a spiritual guru..but the un-ordinary happens when he is chosen to appear on a TV interview.
Here are a couple of scenes:
(The umbrellas are so much a part of a few scenes, that the brochures came with little umbrellas attached…. a nice touch!)
What will happen to him is something the audience decides…..and it was a really fun evening, and the young audience really went for it and there was a great sense of camaraderie in the hall!
Since much of the script is so impromptu, I won’t spend more time talking about it, but would like to mention that the production values were excellent. The music (vocal by Gaurav Hombali, and Keyboard by Vasanth Mohanraj) were especially great to listen to. “What does the road ask of me?” sang Gaurav repeatedly, ” I know not where I go…” the same can be said of the play, too!
The actors are all very well versed in theatre forms such as mime and movements; even when the audience worked out the play, they had no difficuly in producing a stage-worthy denouement, which even raised a few more laughs.
There *was* one tripping-over-a-line-of-dialogue, but that was the only incident; otherwise, the stage movements and the choreography were very good indeed.
The contrast between the white over-sheets of the “Life in a Frame” scenario, and the different-coloured scarves throughout the play, was probably symbolic of the white light of the Common Man being analysed prismatically…but that’s my interpretation.
It was clear that the cast were also enjoying themselves, and when someone enjoys what they do, they are bound to do it well.
At the end of the play, Ranji came forward and introduced everyone else. His stage presence and his warmth are remarkable, and the audience was literally eating out of his hand at the end! I have never before seen such an enthusiastically interactive audience at Ranga Shankara; for this alone, I must congratulate Ranji!
The play was written by Nandini Rao, who gave me an instantly warm feeling when I spoke to her earlier. The cast consisted of Amit Agarwal, Amrutha Varshini, Gaurav Gupta, Karan Shah, Nandini Rao, Pramod Nair, Radhika Mehra, and Sumit Acharya (I like it very much when alphabetical order is followed, as it was in the brochure!)
The make-up was by Radhika; wonder how she found the time to apply the grease paint AND be on stage on time!
The excellent brochure, handed out before the play, talked about the group, which was started in 2003; about the play, which is a satire about society through a common man’s eyes; and about interactive theatre. It contains contact details and the Yours Truly theatre website URL.
To my delight, a little slip had also been included, which the audience member could fill up with name, number and email id and give it to the theatre group for future contact.
Ranji said that he had googled for such interactive theatre, and apart from a theatre group in Brazil, such interactive theatre has not been documented anywhere.
However, I must mention that interactive theatre HAS been documented; Ayn Rand, in her play, “Night of January 16th”, allowed the audience to choose one of two endings, and that’s the way it was played in the London theatres. However, today’s audience interaction was far more free-wheeling, and they decided how the character would move, and how things would go.
I must mention that I was also delighted to meet Karan Shah; being on the same blogsite, we have been exchanging thoughts for a while now, and it was nice to finally meet up face to face.
I have only one nit to pick, and that is…the production must be tightened up a little time-wise. Perhaps the “guruji” sequences could be trimmed; ideally, the whole performance should run for about 70 or 75 minutes..I think today it took about 90.
But apart from this, “Common Man” is strongly recommended for audiences who would like to spend a pleasant evening!
From the photo below, one is left in no doubt about the audience liking the play….
“Common Man”, at Ranga Shankara, will have another show on 3 April 2008, at 7.30pm. Tickets Rs.100.
Contact Yours Truly Theatre at
yourstrulytheatre at gmail dot com
or call them at 98452 43051 / 98458 53093
The Yours Truly Theatre website is at