English Drama in Pune

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A Most Serious Affair

Posted by deepakmorris on November 4, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

ACTOR: Well hello Mr. Producer, you wanted to see me?

PRODUCER: Yes hello. You are the actor who plays the lead role in “Kitty Parties” right?

ACTOR: That’s right. I play the long-suffering husbands who has to go to great lengths to –

PRODUCER: Yes, yes, that’s fine. But I’ve got a few complaints from viewers that your acting is insipid

ACTOR: What? That can’t be!

PRODUCER: I assure you, it is. I’m very close to the viewers. I have to take them seriously

ACTOR: But I always give it my best!

PRODUCER: Right, cry.

ACTOR: What?

PRODUCER: Cry

ACTOR: Why?

PRODUCER: You say you always give it your best. I want to see your best. So cry

ACTOR: Oh, so this is a screen test?

PRODUCER: Screen test, scream test, green test, we’ll be doing them all. Now cry

ACTOR: (Starts crying) Boo hoo hoo, My wife always spends so much money on her kitty parties… boo hoo… I have to work so hard to –

PRODUCER: Enough. Now laugh

ACTOR: Half?

PRODUCER: Laugh

ACTOR: Half laugh?

PRODUCER: Laugh!

ACTOR: (Starts laughing) Ha ha ha, my wife is so silly. I told her I’d been robbed and she believed me! Ha ha ha… now I won’t have to foot the bill for her stupid kitty parties

PRODUCER: Enough! Get frustrated

ACTOR: Arrrgghhhh… that wife of mine is driving me round the bend with her endless parties. Arrgh… one of these days I’m going to –

PRODUCER: Beg

ACTOR: Beg pardon?

PRODUCER: No pardon, just beg

ACTOR: Please… please dear, don’t host your kitty party here… please my love, it throws everything out of gear – hey, that rhymed!

PRODUCER: Yes, yes, you’re a poet, don’t I know it. Mime!

ACTOR: Yours?

PRODUCER: Mine? My what?

ACTOR: I don’t know, you said mine

PRODUCER: No I said mime

ACTOR: Oh, okay. Shall I do “trapped in a glass cube”?

PRODUCER: That’s fine, just mime

(Actor mimes “trapped in a glass cube”)

PRODUCER: Hmmm

ACTOR: Didn’t like it? I’ll do more! Shall I do walking against a stiff breeze? Climbing a ladder?

PRODUCER: No, no, no. I’m afraid it just won’t do. Your acting is worthless. I’m pulling “Kitty Parties” off the air

ACTOR: But… but… it’s such a great serial!

PRODUCER: Yes but haven’t you heard? I’m the serial killer!

 

Foreword to my latest book

Posted by deepakmorris on January 2, 2016 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

A publisher in the USA has published my book on Amazon - print and Kindle versions.


Cyril Desbruslais, sj, kindly agreed to write a foreword to the book. It's so beautiful, I must share it, even if you don't buy the book:


Foreword – by Cyril Desbruslais, sj


In the beginning was the word. And the word was filled with power. And he who knew how to make and use words had access to power.


Words are currency, like Pounds, Euros, Dollars . . . and Rupees. And he who has a bigger vocabulary is, in a very real sense, richer than one who has a smaller one, just as he who has more money is wealthier than he who has little. Words may not necessarily get you many things, but - if you know how to use them well - can get you lots of power, power over the minds and hearts of people whom you can persuade to help you realise your projects.


Deepak Morris is one of those persons; who knows his words, possesses a rich supply of them and knows how to mould and meld them for noble purposes. No ruthless demagogue is he, luring people into all kinds of quicksand by the pleasing sirens with which he serenades them. Rather, he provokes you to think and reflect, prior to action, whether you would always agree with him or not. I don't, but he always makes me pause to critically consider.


I've known Deepak Morris for literally decades, as animator of a youth group with which he has been associated, on and off, for about thirty years. I've seen him grow from a somewhat shy, introvert schoolboy into a full-fledged, confident leader, not afraid to stand out as not being quite "one of the crowd". I've heard him debate, read many of his well thought-out pieces of writing and sat through some of his many thought-provoking plays. I know him as a skilled instructor in public speaking and a proficient emcee in many contexts. Indeed he has, more than once, tutored Miss India finalists on how to use words to impress their judges.


This armoury/treasury of Deepak's words is primarily addressed to business people. But lesser mortals, like myself, will feel themselves enriched after having gone through them, even if one cannot totally agree with a particular comment here and there. And one cannot deny that it is always well said and provides ample food for thought. Happy reading!


Cyril Desbruslais sj

Pune, India


Cyril Desbruslais is a Jesuit in Pune, with a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, France. He is an expert on the Bible, having read it in the original Greek. His sermons attract international audiences but he continues to work among the youth in Pune, sure that his work will have universal repercussions.

To check out the books I've written available on Amazon, please go to my Author Page.


Really Short Summaries of Shakespeare's Plays - Julius Caesar

Posted by deepakmorris on December 2, 2015 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Continuing in my series of REALLY short synopses of Shakespeare's plays. The first was of The Merchant of Venice. Here's Julius Caesar.


The play revolves around the assassination of Julius Caesar by Senators Brutus, Cassius and others and the aftermath of the assassination.


Brutus loves Caesar but is persuaded by Cassius that he, Caesar, has become too ambitious and wants to be crowned Emperor of Rome. Convinced that this would be bad for Rome, Brutus joins the conspirators.


At the feast of Lupercal in February, as Caesar walks in triumph in parade after defeating the sons of Pompey, a soothsayer (fortune teller) warns Caesar to beware the Ides – the 15th – of March but Caesar ignores him.


Indeed, on the 15th of March, the conspirators stab Julius Caesar to death in the Capitol. Brutus immediately addresses the citizens and convinces them that the death of Caesar was necessary in order for Rome to survive. His oratory turns the citizens into fans of the conspirators.


Against the advice of the other conspirators, Brutus allows Marc Antony, Caesar’s best friend, to address the citizens. In a masterful speech that begins by praising the conspirators and then slowly plays upon the citizens’ sentiments and outright selfishness, Marc Antony turns the citizens against the conspirators. The conspirators flee a crowd baying for their blood.


Marc Antony joins with Caesar’s great-nephew Octavius and Lepidus and form an army to fight the army put together by Brutus and Cassius. Outnumbered and out-manoeuvred, first Cassius and then Brutus kill themselves.


The play ends with Marc Antony eulogising Brutus for being unselfish in his motive to kill Caesar and thus being “the noblest Roman of all”.

 


Suspension of Disbelief

Posted by deepakmorris on October 13, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Whenever I teach mime, I keep emphasising that, once you identify an object for an audience, it EXISTS for that audience and you must NEVER break that illusion.

Audiences want to believe. That is why they suspend disbelief. That is why a couple of crooked upright sticks on stage are willingly accepted as full grown trees by the audience. The audience is not interested in scenery that is distracting. It wants the scene to be suggested and then it wants to know what the ACTORS are going to do.

Or rather, the CHARACTERS. In live theatre, there are no actors. There are only characters. Swooning over a tall, dark and handsome actor rarely happens with stage actors. 

I never take feedback from a film-maker

Posted by deepakmorris on June 17, 2015 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (3)

I don't.

Film-makers work in a different world. They see things through a viewfinder. Their vision is narrow.

Theatre is vastly different. It doesn't have the luxury of a retake. It can't rely on editing to make a scene interesting. Either the actor makes the scene interesting or it just dies.

If a film-maker ever says you suck, take it as a compliment, for he has no idea what you do.

Accent (dialect) and the actor

Posted by deepakmorris on June 13, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I use the word "accent" here to mean the Indian equivalent of "dialect", as in, "Swamy has a South Indian accent" (when you mean Swamy speaks in a South Indian dialect).

When is it right and when wrong to use dialect?

There is a very simple test to apply; "Does the dialect help tell the story more effectively?"

If everyone in a Welsh play speaks in a Welsh dialect and you're the odd Indian playing a Welshman, you darn well learn the Welsh dialect. If you're playing a lone Indian in a Welsh play, be Indian!

Similarly in an Indian play featuring various communities, each with their own dialect, what value does the dialect add? If it's just giggles, you're in the wrong production. You're just a wannabee who hasn't made it to TV. Johny Lever managed it but if it were that easy, every one of you who can imitate a dialect would be a star.

Use dialect effectively, not for dubious effect!

It's Mime Own Fault!

Posted by deepakmorris on June 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Teaching is fun but coming up with mime scenes for my students is even more fun. One scene that has received rave reviews from examiners:

 

Lost In The Forest:

A young girl wanders into a forest. She sees monkeys chattering and frolicking in the trees and watches for a while. Then she happens to look away and spots a pretty flower. She crosses to the flower, plucks it, smells it and puts it in her hair.

Then she spots something interesting opposite the flower bush. She crosses to look at it closely. It turns out to be a butterfly (this was ably shown by my student) and she watches as it flies up and flutters off the stage.

Right next to this bush is another bush with a flower that holds another insect. The girl peers into this flower as well. However, the insect turns out to be a bee and the girl reacts in near panic, trying to shoo away the bee.

Once the bee is gone, the girl looks around and realises she is lost. She runs in one direction. She hears a roar and stops. She rushes in the opposite direction. She hears another roar and freezes.

Finally, she hears a friend call from upstage. She shows her relief at being found and rushes to meet her friend.

END

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.