All About Deepak Morris

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A blog about drama /  theatre and my experiences in the same.

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Moving on stage

Posted by deepakmorris on November 18, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Movement brings a scene alive in theatre! 

In movies, camera angles and shots can make sedentary scenes, such as people gathered around a hospital bed talking to a patient, quite alive with trolley shots, over the shoulder shots, zoom ins, zoom outs, etc.

Live Theatre doesn't have that luxury so teachers and starting directors often wonder how movement can be added in a scene. It's a difficult thing but with a little effort and stagecraft, movement can be added even into the most sedentary scene.

Here are some steps to help add movement to a scene:

  1. Learn the parts of the stage: There can be no substitute to learning the parts of the stage in order to tell actors where to be when they say a line. The stage has nine parts of the acting area itself, plus other parts such as the proscenium arch, the apron, etc. Click here to learn the parts of the stage.
  2. Decide what is where on stage: Read the script, then carve out the stage space to decide what is where. If the scene is set in a graveyard, decide on the location of each grave and tombstone. The more real you make it in your mind, the more real it becomes for the actors and, ultimately, the audience.
  3. Use actions marked in the script: Very often, the playwright puts stage directions in the script itself, if not overtly at least in indicative form, e.g. Looks closely at the headstone. Once you have established where the grave is, looking closely at the headstone easily allows the actor to move to the headstone to examine it.
  4. Give everyone something to do: Let's say it's a scene featuring a shopkeeper and a customer. It need not be static. The shopkeeper can wipe his counter (hopefully, you, as director, have carved out the stage space and told actors where the counter, shelves, etc. are). Or he can take objects from the showcases, rearrange them, polish them, etc. The customer can examine the store and objects in it. This helps immensely when one character is taking centre stage and the other has to bide his time before he speaks. Wiping the counter, rearranging merchandise and other things gives the other actor something to do while adding valuable movement in the scene. Examining the store and it's merchandise gives the customer something to do while the shopkeeper speaks.
  5. Look for conflict: Conflict is an integral part of a scene. Someone wants something and someone else wants to prevent him from achieving it. So, using the shopkeeper and customer metaphor, it can be very easy to add movement by having the shopkeeper bark at the customer, forcing him to jump back several steps. Conversely, the customer may bark at the shopkeeper, adding not only movement but further comic elements with glass showcases crashing all around.
With just a bit of imagination, you can add action to just about any scene on stage.

Creativity is not difficult

Posted by deepakmorris on August 28, 2013 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a myth that creativity is some mysterious thing that very few people can do.

The truth is that anyone can be creative. Once they allow themselves to be creative, that is.

Just do something differently and see the difference! Find a different way to tie your shoelaces! Permit yourself to be fidderent! :)

Why English?

Posted by deepakmorris on May 28, 2013 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I am often asked why I focus almost exclusively on drama in English and not other languages.

"Is that not rather elitist?" some ask.

My answer to that is that there is plenty being done in drama in regional languages. Maharashtra is alive with Marathi theatre, Bengali theatre thrives in Bengal and nearby states, Hindi theatre is alive, well and growing all over India, other regional theatre is doing pretty well too.

English theatre often gets short shrift. There are no state or even regional initiatives to encourage theatre in English. I am fluent in Marathi (my second script was written in Marathi) and can probably write a pretty engaging play in Marathi that'll do well at the Box Office but then I'd just be buying into the already thriving industry.

English is not an alien language in India. It is very much an Indian language. It is also a language that can connect very many Indians to non-Indians. Ask any rickshaw-wallah in Koregaon Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't try to be an actor because you couldn't be a scientist

Posted by deepakmorris on May 11, 2013 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Many people contact me, asking to help them become actors - on stage, in films, or in serials.

That's not a problem. I'm always willing to help someone become an actor.

However, their attitude always seems to suggest that acting is not so much an art or a science but simply being in the right place at the right time. They are not looking for training in acting, they are looking for some miraculous opportunity that will catapult them to fame.

Doesn't happen.

Scientists study hard and long and some still don't make it big.

That's acting. Study hard and long and there's still no guarantee you'll make it big.

 

 

 

 

 

Tackling Shakespeare

Posted by deepakmorris on February 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Working with my student on "The Merchant Of Venice".

 

"Everyone just hated the Jews, right?" she said when we tackled the parts where Shylock came in.

 

"Everyone needs someone to hate", I replied, "Shakespeare made that someone a Jew. Whom do we hate now?"

 

She paused. The pause grew longer.

 

"Muslims?" she asked tentatively.

 

I kept quiet.

 

"Radical Hindus?" she asked again.

 

I kept quiet.

 

"Fundamental Christians?" she asked before lapsing into complete silence.

 

Finally, "Shakespeare was saying we can find reason to hate anyone!"

 

Buy my scripts from Amazon!

Posted by deepakmorris on January 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Two of my scripts are now available for Kindle through Amazon at just a dollar a download!

If you don't own a Kindle it's no problem, just download the free Kindle for PC application.

So, here goes,

Download Business Is War

Or download Who Let The Dogs Out?

Just a dollar a download!

Music, rhythm and acting

Posted by deepakmorris on November 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I think it is very, very important for an actor to explore music. Music, far from being something just a few "gifted" people enjoy, is actually very much a part of every human being's speech and action. When someone has "an accent" (everyone thinks someone from a different country has an accent whereas he/she doesn't), rhythm, cadence, is very much part of that accent.

Play an upbeat song and a child automatically moves to the beat. Try it. If you think you're bad at music, just play an upbeat song for a child on your music system and see how it delights in moving to the music. No one taught it. It's doubtful if it had the chance to see someone dance but it dances!

Now see how changing the beat can actually change the music! The following is the original "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles:


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

See what happens to it when the beat is changed to Reggae:

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

Note how Gray stays within the melody but the beat frees him to experiment more with the notes. How can this help you deliver lines differently? Can you change the beat so the lines become fresh because the notes you hit in your speech (oh yes, we hit notes in our speech) are different?


Making sense of a vague script

Posted by deepakmorris on August 4, 2012 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Here's an example of using your imagination to make sense of a vague script. I saw a question on Yahoo! Answers that asked how a particular script with no stage directions could be used to create a meaningful scene.

The question and my answer (selected as Best Answer) can be seen by clicking the link below:

Making sense of a vague script

Teaching Four Year Old Girls - A Monologue

Posted by deepakmorris on July 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

(Dinesh, around 40, walks on, struggling with a pile of large books – large in area and in thickness – in his hands)

 

DINESH: (Putting books down on the table)

 

Okay, girls, let’s settle down and begin today’s lesson. (Long pause) Oh, okay, you want to eat your biscuits (pause) um... okay, tiffin. You know, tiffin is a uniquely Indian word, from when… (pause) what, Melanie? You want to go to the toilet? Oh, okay, I’ll get one of the helpers to take you.

 

(He calls to an imaginary helper) Um, Melanie here wants to go to the toilet, can you take her, please? (Pause) Oh, Siddhi seems to want to go too. Is it too much of a problem – oh, thanks! You’re a saviour!

 

What’s that, Riddhi? (Pause) Yes, I know Siddhi’s your twin but that doesn’t mean – oh all right, stop doing that, I get that you need to go to the bathroom too. You may follow your sister.

 

So we, um, yes, it’s just you and I, Ghia. No, not you and me, you and I. Yes, that is the right way to say it and your daddy is (beat) not entirely wrong if he says “me” but the more correct word in this context is “I”.

 

Context? Oh, that’s something you’ll learn when you grow older. And Melanie, please don’t drag that steel chair across the floor. (Pause) Yes, I know you’re back from the toilet – the screeching chair told me so. Child, okay, girl, okay MELANIE!

 

Oh dear god, don’t cry! Please don’t cry! Pretty please don’t cry?

 

Okay, um… see the pretty pictures in this book? Oh dear god she’s still crying. Hey! Want some ice cream?

 

Oh damn, that was a mistake.

 

No! I said “oh Dan”! I DIDN’T say a naughty word! I said “Dan” I tell you!

 

The Matchmaker

Posted by deepakmorris on July 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a monologue I wrote for the "Chillin' In My Brown Skin" Asian Festival in Toronto years ago. Enjoy:

The Matchmaker

 

By Deepak Morris

Copyright © Deepak Morris, 2005

 

(The Front Room of MRS CHITNIS’ home office. There is a table and a chair. There is a pile of files on the table. MRS CHITNIS’ voice is heard off)

 

MRS CHITNIS:

Come in, come in, my dear. What did you say your name was? (coming on) Anjali? Anjali Bambawale? Any relation to the Bambawale’s of Sadashiv Peth? You know, they live near Chitale Bandhu? The Sweetshop (pause) No? Oh, okay. (Sitting at the table) Let’s see now (searches among the files until she locates Anjali’s file, opens it, reads) Hmmm… 34? (Looks across at the imaginary Anjali) You’re THIRTY-FOUR years old? What have you been doing so long? Your parents should have tried to get you married long ago. And it’s no wonder you’re having difficulty finding a match… you’re dark skinned! Were your parents sleeping? They should have got you married ten years ago. Really, I tell you, parents are so lazy these days!

 

(Pause) What’s that you say? Father died six years ago? Well, really! How are you going to pay the dowry then? That’s the trouble with you ‘modern’ people. No idea how important it is to have a father alive and earning to pay the dowry. Hmmm… let’s see (reads the papers in the file) any brothers…. brothers... brothers… hmmm.. one brother… hmmm… older…. ACTOR? Which Serial? (Pause) Humph… STAGE ACTOR? We can write off any dowry contribution from him then. You people make it so difficult for the matchmaker these days. Let’s get one thing clear, young lady, though why I call you young I don’t know…. THIRTY-FOUR! And dark skinned too! As I was saying, let’s get one thing clear; with a skin like that and your age, the dowry will have to be hefty. (Pause) Illegal? Well of course dowry is illegal. That doesn’t stop people from asking and girls like you from paying if you want a good match.

 

Well, let’s see if we can salvage something from the situation…. (reads the papers again) You’re a POST-GRADUATE? What on earth were you thinking? First of all, you’re dark-skinned. Then you wait until you’re 34. And on top of that, you go and get a post graduate qualification. Now you’ll tell me you want someone better qualified than you. (Pause) I knew it! No doubt he’ll have to be earning more than you do too… Don’t nod like that! Do you know how difficult your position is? And mine too. I have a reputation to protect, you know. I’m the best matchmaker in Pune. And I don’t believe in that nonsense about being spurred by a good challenge. If I were interested in spurs, I’d be a jockey – now don’t interrupt, young lady (sneering tone at “young”) I don’t need a lesson on horseracing.

 

Anyway, let’s see... hmmmm… Occupation, teacher… College! Ah, that’s good, that’s good. Teachers are in demand these days, especially if they are willing to migrate to the USA… What’s that? (Pause) Now look here, you silly fool. None of that patriotic nonsense. What do you mean you want to stay in India? (Pause) Nothing doing. Apply for a job in the USA or Canada. Or at least Australia. No wait! Australia doesn’t recognise Indian qualifications. It has to be the USA. Don’t interrupt! So far, you’ve done all you can to spoil your chances of getting married. Now don’t spoil the one remaining chance.

 

Here’s what you do. Look through the appointment pages – the Opportunities Overseas section – and apply for all the teaching positions in the USA or Canada. Keep me informed. There are plenty of good boys who will jump at the chance to marry a girl who gets a job in the USA. Canada too. The minute you get a job there, we’ll fix an engagement. Better to fix things so that nobody backs out at the last minute. There was one girl who went off and then married somebody in the USA. So you’ll pay my fee before you leave India. Yes, you may go now… (Watches as the imaginary Anjali leaves, then sighs and shuts the file, to audience) THIRTY-FOUR! I hope I can find a fool who will believe that she is still innocent.

 

BLACKOUT

 

Note:

 

Women, regardless of age, who are looking for a husband are called “girls” in India. Similarly, a man looking for a wife is called a “boy”.

 

Innocent is a euphemism for virgin.

 



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