English Drama in Pune

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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?


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.

 


My Yahoo Answers

Posted by deepakmorris on November 25, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

To see my answers about various aspects of theatre on Yahoo answers, go to the following URL:

My Yahoo Answers

Over 2,000 answers and adding day by day.

Every once in a while...

Posted by deepakmorris on May 4, 2011 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (1)

You know, every once in a while someone does something for you that is so unexpected, it knocks you out of your socks.

I received the following recommendation on LinkedIn from Prafull Devale, who has worked with almost every English-language group in Pune:

Deepak Morris is the 1st name that comes in mind when one talks about quality English Theatre in Pune.

I'm lucky that my Theatrical Innings began with Deepak's "Rhapsody Theatre". Not only did he first cast me in a full-length Musical Play, he also persisted with me in his subsequent Plays, in plum roles...

What strikes immediately about Deepak is his no-nonsense, professional nature, his love for Dramatics & his expertise in the same. With a helpful nature, an ever smiling face & a dash of humour, Deepak is a pleasure to work with. Everything - right from the initial play reading, casting to scheduling, blocking,  rehearsals, costumes, props, lights, sound, publicity, tech.rehearsals & the final presentation - is carried out in real world-class manner. Nowhere else,have I seen the basics being adhered to so meticulously.

Deepak is non-intrusive, soft spoken & allows the actors the freedom to develop their own style. During a production he is calm, unruffled & casts actors strictly on merit & as per the demands of the role. No personal favourites with Deepak, as far as the castings go. If a role is unusual/difficult, he goes out of his way to make things easy for the actor, and is also flexible, open to suggestions. Very important - he listens to the actor & understands the actor's point of view.  Deepak is extremely fair in all his dealings, a fine gentleman & a completely dedicated, true Thespian. If you are a Theatre enthusiast, living in Pune & have not been a part of Deepak Morris' Rhapsody Theatre Productions', what Theatre have you done?

My Note: Thank you, Prafull!

The Mule In The Middle Of Main Street

Posted by deepakmorris on April 29, 2011 at 1:58 PM Comments comments (0)

Someone sent me a private message asking for tips on how to tackle the fear that often grips the would-be entrepreneur. This person was more or less an expert in the field in which he wanted to start his business. He knew the dangers inherent in the business and knew how to prepare for them. But he was afraid because, if he started the business, he would be moving from the “safe” model of a salaried employee to the “unsafe” model of the self-employed professional.

That got me thinking about how I started Rhapsody Theatre, a production house, albeit small, that has staged 13 plays since 2001. I looked back to see where I had been afraid and, to my astonishment, I cannot recall a single moment when I felt fear. When I faced my first production, with no capital for publicity, no money to build sets or stitch costumes, no money to book a venue, I was as unafraid as I would have been had I been a millionaire with all the money in the world to handle these issues. When the police threatened to stop a performance, just hours before it was to be staged, because a minor permission hadn’t been obtained, I had been unafraid. When an actor quit two days before a play was to be staged, I had been unfazed. I replaced that actor with one who turned out to be much better and is now one of the mainstays of Rhapsody Theatre.

Isn’t that amazing? To feel no fear! And it is only now, when asked how to tackle the fear, that I realise I should have been very afraid all those times. Why hadn’t I been afraid?

I think the answer lies in what I call stubbornness, but what most people feel more comfortable calling passion. I call it stubbornness because passions may wax and wane, but stubbornness is as fixed as that mule standing smack bang in the middle of Main Street, unfazed by the honking traffic that mills around it. It wants to stand there, so it does. I wanted to take theatre to a new level in Pune, so I did. I think it is indeed that simple.

Purpose brings Performance

How does stubbornness work?

Not having done any research on the subject, I can only talk of how stubbornness works for me. I have one absolute: The show must go on. Everything flows from there. Once a date has been fixed for a performance, it is not changed. So, my mind accepts that it cannot be changed, and directs my actions accordingly.

Let me tell you how my mind tackled the first problem Rhapsody Theatre faced: With no money to even book a venue, how on earth was I going to stage a production? The theatre scene in Pune at that time wasn’t very good. Sponsors preferred, and indeed still prefer, to back a pub event or even a fashion show. The kind of theatre I wanted to do would be focussed more on acting and getting a story across than on spectacular sets, lights and sound, and, even crazier, to some people’s way of thinking, I wanted to do it without advertising. Mule that I am, I fixed a date, and decided to do it without a sponsor and without advertising.

Once that was decided, amazing things began to happen! I was sitting, that very evening, at my favourite hangout, The Jazz Garden in Pune. Since none of my friends were around, I began chatting with the owners, who made a casual remark that they were looking for events to promote the restaurant. “Click!” went my mind. “Why not do a play?” I asked. “Why not?” was the immediate reply. Getting down to brass tacks immediately, I asked them what they wanted from the promotion. “People to visit the restaurant and eat here,” came the response. “Click!” again. “If I give you 70 to a 100 people who will visit the place and dine here, will you let me use your stage and electricity?” I asked. “Yes” was the response. I had my venue, with not a rupee paid up front. The restaurant would put a cover charge on every entrant and I was free to fix an entry fee to cover costs. We were on our way to our first production. Mind you, at this point, I didn’t even have a play in hand, although the date was just a month away.

You don’t have to look for solutions

Solutions come to you. At a rate that will take your breath away. Dissatisfied with the plays I found, even after searching the net, I decided to write my own play. Rather, that decision was forced upon me, since I had committed to the restaurant and, more importantly to my own mind, that the play was being staged on the date decided.

The next day saw a solution to two problems. A journalist friend of mine, who was interested in acting, asked if he could be in my play. “Sure”, I replied. “Do you mind if I do a small write-up in the newspaper where I work?” was his next question. Mind! I’d have to be out of my mind to pass up a chance for free publicity! I had an actor and publicity in one stroke. It was a simple matter then to request the journalist to also contact his pals in other publications and ask if they’d carry a write-up too. Again, to my surprise, they quite liked the quixotic idea of doing a play sans sponsors or advertising. All four English language newspapers carried write-ups on this seemingly crazy experiment. Marketing becomes a breeze

I was still left with the problem of filling the house. Theatre-style, the restaurant could seat 100 bodies. Pooling our list of friends, those of us involved in the production figured we could bring in 50. Where were we to get the balance? The write-ups would not motivate people to come. They were useful only in reassuring those we tried to sell passes to that the play was really happening and it would be a good idea to attend. We needed to fill the house, since our entry component on each pass was calculated on the basis of 100 people attending. That would pay for the sets, sound and lights.

Once again, my habit of hanging out at the Jazz Garden brought a solution. Chatting with one of the regulars, I found that he had a birthday coming up and wanted to do something different with his friends. “How many friends?” I asked. “Fifty” was his reply. Again, in a cosmic juxtaposition that cannot be mere coincidence, his birthday was the date decided for the performance. I don’t have to spell out what transpired next, do I? We had our fifty bodies to bring the total number of attendees to 100.

Over and Over Again

I have found that fixedness of purpose – stubbornness – empowers you to tackle any emergency that comes your way. Over thirteen productions I’ve tackled actors falling ill, authorities demanding strict adherence to procedure, dropouts, threats of boycott from actors, I’ve even been treated to the comical sight of a potential sponsor running away from a venue when I asked him if he was interested in sponsoring our play.

With no formal education in theatre, no mentor to ease the way and no advertising, I am still in a position to speak authoritatively on theatre. I have thirteen plays staged since 2001 and, obviously, an equal number written. That first play I wrote has been performed in 7 countries across the world, including the USA and Canada. I couldn’t have done it without the mule in the middle of Main Street.

English Drama and the English Accent

Posted by deepakmorris on April 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM Comments comments (0)

There is no English accent. Really, there isn't. What would one term an "English" accent? The one heard on BBC (News / Radio)?

Well, no one in England - except for the newsreaders - has that accent. Native speakers of English have accents that vary from an Irish lilt to a Scottish burr to a cockney "glottal" accent.

Verisimilitude isn't about accent, it's about making the audience feel the emotion of the character. 

English theatre is not about English, it's about theatre!

How to learn your lines (or anything) fast!

Posted by deepakmorris on October 6, 2010 at 12:48 PM Comments comments (0)

Another question I come across frequently on sites dedicated to theatre and acting, where people can ask questions, usually goes like this:

Help! I have to learn this monologue / set of lines / entire script in X days! How do I do it?

X usually ranges from 1 to 15 days.

Actually, it's quite easy to learn a monologue or even an entire script in an amazingly short time. This is especially true in our wired world, where we have a variety of electronic gizmos at our disposal.

Ready for the secret?

Here it is; record what you want to recall and listen to it over and over. That's it! You'll be reciting the piece along with the recording soon and before you know it, you'll be able to recite it unaided. Use your mobile phone or laptop or desktop - all have recording and playback features.

Remember, however, to record even lines not said by you (use whatever false voice you want) so that you know your cues.

The thing is, oral tradition has long been part of human learning. Written language came relatively recently in our development. Even now when we read, the words must be pronounced "inside our heads" for us to understand them. Think about what you're reading right now. Can you hear the voice in your head saying the words?

Still unconvinced? Here's the zinger; do you remember the words of your favourite song because you heard it over and over or read it over and over?

The Myth of the Struggling Actor

Posted by deepakmorris on September 10, 2010 at 12:32 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a myth that an actor cannot earn a regular income. Like most myths, it is fuelled by the examples of a few struggling actors. These, I submit, are the exception rather than the rule.


The very essence of acting is to be able to handle any role. Ergo, an actor can easily sustain the role of a paid employee. But there's even more, in case one thinks that sustaining the role of an employee is a dishonest way to earn money.


You see, an actor who's enthusiastic about acting gains a whole lot of experience in a whole lot of fields... public speaking, acting, teamwork and so on. The more enthusiastic even get trained in juggling, acrobatics, ventriloquism...


Far from being restricted to one field, an actor has training and expertise in several fields. Just training people in any of these fields can provide regular income to an actor, even if the actor does not actively pursue these fields.


When you are an actor, the world is your oyster... and theatre gives you plenty of tools to open that bivalve.