English Drama in Pune

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Music, Maths, Language and Theatre

Posted by deepakmorris on October 5, 2011 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (1)

There are a couple of interesting discussions going on about music being mathematical at Facebook - well, they are the ones I'm aware of, there are probably more discussions on the same theme on Facebook by people to whom I am not connected.

Music and theatre are inextricably intertwined. Theatre uses music to creat mood, to reinforce the ethos of a scene, to accelerate the grasp of a scene - when you hear a rimshot, you know a one-liner has been delivered and you laugh. Then your brain replays the one-liner and you get the actual humour and laugh again. Every stand-up comedian knows this.

So I thought I'd explore this theme a bit in this blog. It'll probably take more than a few posts to explore this but here goes:

Music is inherent in humans

Have you watched a mother swaying her baby to sleep? She sings a lullaby without even thinking about it. She may never have sung in her life. She may think she's an awful singer. At a karaoke bar, she may actually prove that thought. However, to put her baby to sleep, she SINGS! 

What is it that makes every human mother sing to her baby? Is she genetically programmed to do so?

If that is true, then music is in our genes. Even the most un-musical human has the musical gene or he / she would never find a lullaby soothing.

Where did this music come from?

The begining of music is rhythm

I once had an argument with a music teacher, my stance being that some people are musical, others are not and nothing can be done about that.

My teacher grimly replied, "Even the most un-musical soldier learns to march in step."

(This ties in perfectly with my own belief that we are all actors, we just don't know it, but that's a topic for a different post).

Rhythm, then, is an integral part of us. We may not move our bodies very elegantly to a rhythm but we CAN stomp to a rhythm

There has to be an evolutionary reason for this. There HAS to be a reason why every human mother sings to her infant and every human being is capable of moving in rhythm.

I'll leave you with just these two thoughts for now. I'll be exploring them in further detail over the days.

Stay tuned :)

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?

How to copy without plagiarising

Posted by deepakmorris on March 3, 2010 at 1:03 PM Comments comments (0)

Plagiarism is wrong. Copying for personal pleasure isn't. And being inspired to create your own work from an existing work in the public domain is art.


Westside Story (the musical) is Romeo and Juliet in modern times. So is Bobby (the Bollywood movie) and tons of other Bollywood movies. Probably other movies in other languages and countries as well.


Creating derivative works from copyrighted material is a dicey area.


So don't go there.


Instead, read the classics and borrow the plot. Then create your own story around that plot.


If Shakespeare did it, so can you.

 

How to write anything

Posted by deepakmorris on March 2, 2010 at 1:36 PM Comments comments (1)

You can write a play. You can write a novel. You can write a bestseller.

You can write anything you want to write...

... IF you know how to copy without plagiarising!

Look at Shakespeare...

So many of his plays are based on older stories.

Heck, look at George Bernard Shaw! He even called his novel, "Pygmalion", an outright copy of the title of the legend! And then it became, "My Fair Lady" and more recently, "Miss Congeniality".

All authors copy. You can trace the stories back to Caveman conveying details of the daily hunt.


I'll explain soon.

Use Yahoo! Answers to learn

Posted by deepakmorris on February 27, 2010 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Here's how I use Yahoo! Answers to learn more about theatre.

After I get to the Yahoo! Answers home page and log in, I go to the drama section and look for interesting questions. Ones from students of drama are a good place to start. They often ask questions that requires a thorough knowledge about a specific aspect of theatre.

If the question has already been answered, I read through the answers. This in itself is quite enlightening but there's more...

Once I've read through the answers, I try to expand on the answers already given. Using terms and phrases from the question as well as the answers as search words, I look for sites that deal with the topic in hand. For this reason, I never use the links provided in the "Sources" section of the answer but do a search "from the ground up".

The resulting reads have expanded my knowledge of theatre at an unbelievable pace!


Yes, you can use Yahoo! Answers to expand your knowledge on just about any subject without asking any question or reading any answer, even!

 

How to use Yahoo! Answers to increase your writing output

Posted by deepakmorris on February 26, 2010 at 12:08 PM Comments comments (1)

I use Yahoo! Answers for a variety of things, from increasing my writing output to learning more about theatre.

Today I'll tackle how to use Yahoo! Answers to increase your writing output.

In order to do this, you need two things:

  • A desire to write
  • A desire to help a student or young actor

That's all it takes. Once these two desires exist, the process is more or less automatic.

Just head over to Yahoo! Answers and go to the sub-section of Arts that interests you, whether drama, poetry or literature. Then browse the questions and find ones that ask for poems, monologues or other literary / dramatic pieces that either need to be freshly written (certain number of characters, certain scene, etc.) or where a freshly written piece is acceptable. Write your piece in response. You can write it at zhura if it's a theatre piece and set whatever licence you wish - Creative Commons, Full Rights, etc. Then post the link to it as your answer at Yahoo! Answers.

Congratulations! You've just used Yahoo! Answers to write a new piece!

Polish it at will and send it for publication.

 

Modern aids to help you with writing

Posted by deepakmorris on February 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM Comments comments (8)

Computers and laptops have taken out a lot of the headache that used to be there in writing - reams of paper, lots of ink, the sheer effort required to write, handwriting that just got awful when one was writing at top speed so that the idea didn't escape... With a computer, it's a lot easier to write and rewrite. Even if one doesn't know how to type, a few days of practice and one is ready to abandon paper and pen.

However, writers, being a creative lot, still find ways to avoid writing. Excuses range from lack of inspiration to mood swings to clinical depression to worry about a pet's health. Who knows? There may be a writer who refuses to write because she can't find the exact shade of font colour that inspires creativity!

I do that too. I find any excuse not to write. It's odd, yes, but writers don't like to write. We love the final product but the actual making of it bores us.

Here are some things that help me write:

  • Commit to a show date: There is nothing like a show date around the corner to set a playwright's pants on fire and his fingers a-typing. This is especially true if the playwright is also the director and/or producer
  • Enter a competition: Competitions like NaNoWriMo, ScriptFrenzy and now, NaBloPoMo create an atmosphere of competition that gets one to write regularly. Once the habit of writing is formed, it's easy-peasy from there on. Significantly, this blog post comes to you because I've signed up for NaBloPoMo
  • Use Yahoo! Answers: Yahoo! Answers is an excellent way to get you to write! Just find a question asking for a short scene or monologue from an unpublished source and go do it! I'll expand on this in a blog post in the near future

Have fun, now.

The play writing process - 3

Posted by deepakmorris on February 24, 2010 at 12:12 PM Comments comments (0)

Playwrights write for different reasons...


Some write to be deliberately obscure, so that critics get into a tizzy guessing and second-guessing them. Some write to impart an important social message. Some write to entertain.


I like playwrights who combine all of the above.


If you look at Sir Charles Chaplin's work, you'll see what I mean. All his pieces are hilarious but yet... make you stop and think. Entertainment that delivers a message!

The play writing process - 2

Posted by deepakmorris on February 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM Comments comments (0)

Continuing with my thoughts on the play writing process...

Everything becomes material.

My friends have learned that the most casual of conversations with me might land up on stage someday. Here are some examples:

  • A conversation with Rizwan Manji about his experience with the Indian Railways that led to my short scene, "Jail", which was performed by Rasik Arts Theatre in Toronto
  • A humorous reference to the word, "fairy" by a gay friend that turned up in one of my yet-to-be-staged scripts

Of course, I don't betray any confidences but just about anything becomes material;

  • emails spark ideas
  • conversations spark ideas
  • gossip sparks ideas
  • newspaper reports spark ideas

I'm definitely on the rampage here... more to come in the days to follow...