So it all began when I was about 5 years old, and of course, as young boys tend to even at that age, I had a crush on a girl in my class - and she was selected to play the princess in our kindergarten version of Sleeping Beauty.
So of course I auditioned for the role of the Prince.
And I got cast as the Prince's horse.
And ever since then I've been trying to make up for the pain of that first disappointment.
Even if that isn't completely true (though it did happen), at least it's a good way to begin the tale.
Don't you think?
Oh, well, alright then...
It really began with words, wonderful words, a world inhabited by words and stories, and something, perhaps genetic, perhaps magical, made me gravitate towards words, their sounds and their meanings. Words are wonderful because they give things meaning. Words are potent. Words are funny. Words make wonder. Words are magic.
As a child I lived for words and for stories. And as I grew older I realised that faces and bodies and movement spoke as much as words did. I was fascinated by music, dance, poetry and performance in all it's forms. To me, this was a magical world, something removed from simple, mundane existence, where time existed in a form we allowed it, as did space, and the entire journey was one made up of pure emotion, pure feeling, pure wonder, and of course - magic....
So for me the world of the theatre has always represented an alternate reality, and in that, at least, I have never grown up. I've always believed in magic, some little part of me has always remained that little boy, staring wide-mouthed and wide-eyed up at the magical figures that weave their worlds under the arclights, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than the knowledge that I have always been part of that world, now for almost as long as I can remember...
I love the theatre...
It flows in my veins....
It is, in many ways, distilled down to the bare minimum, the very sum of my existence.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragoon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least.
- Eugene Ionesco
|A dramatist is one who believes that the pure event, an action involving human beings, is more arresting than any comment that can be made upon it.|
|- Thornton Wilder|
|Every now and then, when you're on stage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live.|
- Shelley Winters
I wrote, directed, and acted in my first play when I was 13 years old, and won awards for best play, best director, and best actor.
I had acted in some plays before that, but this was entirely my own, so you can imagine it made me very happy :-)
I did my first semi-professional stage production a year later, and ever since have been active on the public stage as director, writer, actor, acrobat, clown, teacher, lighting and sound designer.
Here is a briefish résumé of my work...
January 2006 to March 2008 (In Madras)
Executive produced the first Indo-German co-production for Project Indeact for the Metro plus Theatre festival – a play called ‘Electronic Cities’ featuring Indian actors and a German director and Designer.
Directed two plays – ‘The Attempted Assassination of Salman Rushdie’ & ‘Killing Time’ written specially by Timeri N. Murari for the Hindu Metro Plus International Theatre Festival.
Starred as the ill-fated 7th century Pallava King Mahendra Pallava in Justus Repertory’s ‘Flame of the Forest’ – a play marrying acting, Carnatic Music and Bharatnatyam, written and directed by Gowri Ramnarayan.
Directed a production of Jean Anouilh’s ‘Antigone’ for Stella Maris College with an all female cast.
December 2003 to December 2005 (In Bangalore)
Produced and directed a series of performances mixing, music, poetry and theatre for the Bangalore Habba Festival; performed at 14 locations.
Starred as Colonel Mackenzie in an ART Production of Girish Karnad’s ‘The Dreams of Tipu Sultan’ directed by Arundhati Raja.
Starred in a Kimaaya Productions medley of plays by new Indian writers directed by Deepthi Sudhindra
Directed readings of poetry and prose for The British Council Library, Bangalore, and conducted a series of theatre workshops for children at their premises.
January 2003 to November 2003
Conducted workshops and sessions in Madras on voice, acting, Shakespeare, speaking, production skills, confidence and “Living in Balance” for Stella Maris college, the British Council, Loyola College, Sishya School, and the Goodbooks children’s resource centre, among others.
Directed a production of TS Eliot’s “Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats” with 17 first time college students. Received rave reviews with headlines such as “Purrrfect…..” http://www.hindu.com/mp/2003/12/01/stories/2003120100100300.htm
Starred (as Poseidon) in a production of ‘Trojan Women’ directed by Prasanna Ramaswamy for the Sangeet Natak Academy’s theatre festival celebrating 50 years of Indian theatre – representing Tamil Nadu.
Starred in the premiere of a new play “The Cockroach Collector” by Anushka Ravishankar.
Launched initiative to teach Shakespeare/ classical theatre to students of city colleges and schools through intensive workshops and performances – for the British Council, Madras.
Directed a reading by children of poems for Child Rights Day celebrations at the Birla Planetarium, Madras.
Starred in “Closer Apart” by Anupama Chandrashekhar, directed by V. Balakrishnan.
January to December 2002
Directed/performed Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” for the British Council Culture Café. http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2002120400240400.htm&date=2002/12/04/&prd=mp&
One of only two actors lauded by the press during Stagerite – a festival of 7 Indian plays held in Bangalore during the first week of October – for playing a 50-year old politician in “Thicker than Blood”, a play from Sri Lanka
Acted in a reading of ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ and ‘Thread o’ Scarlet.’
Directed two one-act plays – “The Wedding” and “The Arrangement” for the Rotary Club, with sets designed by Thota Tharani.
January – December 2001
Was one of nine directors from South Asia selected by the Royal Court theatre to work with new playwrights from the region in a residential workshop at Bangalore.
Began the Shakespeare Society in association with Orient Longman, Chennai to spread understanding of Shakespeare among teachers and students in colleges.
Presented and directed a reading of “New Writing” in English for the British Council.
Stage, Light & Sound Design for Inmatch Westside Fashion Bash for 5000 people in August.
Title Role in a production of “The Man who couldn’t dance” for Masquerade.
Directed & performed “Bits & Pieces” by David Campton for the British Council – rave reviews. http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/07/05/stories/13050468.htm
Actor in a production of Tanika Gupta’s “The Waiting Room” for The Madras Players.
Traveled West Coast of India from Trivandrum to Delhi, while rehearsing performances with member of the Alternative Theatre Machine, New York.
One-Man Show “Mr & Mrs. Fix-it” for the Madras Theatre Club
1999 – 2000
Directed & Performed:
One-Man Show “A Portrait Of Paradise” for The Other Festival - received rave reviews.
At the British Council in August, directed reading of “Only Women” by Shekinah Jebaraj
At the Chola Sheraton in July, readings of “Sex! The most fun you can have without laughing...”
Performed readings at the “Coffee?” in Madras from November 1999 to February 2000 included
T S Eliots “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats”
Lanford Wilsons “A Poster of the Cosmos”
Vikram Seths “Beastly Tales from here and there”
J R R Tolkiens “Farmer Giles of Ham”
David Camptons “The Boys and the Girls”
Poetry by David Waggoner
Poetry by Leonard Cohen
Founded “The Grossly Commercial Theatre Company” in Chennai.
1988 - 1999
Actor in Film - “Deviri” - Kannada art film that has gone on to win several awards.
Conducted an intensive Theatre Workshop at the Stella Maris College, Madras.
1997 - 1998
Lighting Designer and Technical Director for “In Search of Moner Manush” - to inaugurate Mahesh’s Studio - Mahesh Dattani’s new theatre space in Bangalore.
Clowning performances and Tomfoolery at various villages in Karnataka State.
Became part of the “Theatre Trust” - an international theatre company with eclectic theatrical influences, operating out of India, influenced by Grotowski’s work and Indian traditional forms - as Technical Director, actor, and playwright.
1996 - 1997:
“Get off my back” Writ. & Dir. by Sylvester Da Cunha (played a caricature gay fashion designer).
“The Tiger” by Murray Schisgal (Director/Designer) - won over 15 awards in three years.
Conducted intensive workshops for Sydenham College and directed their college performances.
1995 - 1996:
“The Mistake” by Vaclav Havel, Dir. by R.Ramanathan (played a goon and strongarm man).
“The Merchant of Venice” Dir. by Toni Patel. (played the Prince of Arragon)
“Romeo & Juliet” Dir. by Vikram Kapadia (played Romeo in India’s longest running Shakespeare production)
“Hamlet” Dir. by Hima Devi (played Laertes)
Technical Supervision for the Prithvi Theatre Festival - 1995.
“The Importance of being Earnest” - 100th Anniversary Performance with an international cast directed by Issy Sanderson (played Algernon Moncrieff).
Film - “Bombay” - Dir. by Mani Rathnam (played Rafi - a young Muslim newspaperman who goes on rampage, looting and killing during the riots)
1993 - 1994:
“The Gin Game” (Associate Director/Stage manager/Music/Lights/Sound)
“Vikram Seth - A selection” - Dir. by Ranvir Shah (Played a 14-year-old and a closeted gay man, among others).
“The Bow of Rama” by Srikumar Varma, Dir. by Noshir Ratnagar for the Hindu-Madras Players festival - 1993 (won Ist prize). (played a local thug ho commits murder during an election)
“The Pied Piper” for the Boardwalkers (played a jackal).
“Aladdin” - A pantomime written and directed by Issy Sanderson for the British Council Players (played the Dame).
“Making a play for you” - written and performed as a special event at the IIT Madras Mardi Gras Festival - 1994 (part of ensemble cast - among others, played a mad old Jewish doctor and a "Devil Woman" transvestite).
1992 - 1993:
“Nagamandala” by Girish Karnad - Directed by Pauline Hahn (from Broadway); Choreographed by Barbara Cortez-Greig. (Assistant Director/part of ensemble cast).
1990 - 1991:
“Brahma’s Hair” - Five stories of trees by Maneka Gandhi - Adapted & Directed by Mithran Devanesen for the Madras Players (part of ensemble cast - among others, played a horse, a king, a ghoul, choreographed and led stickfighting and Tai Chi sequences during play).
1988 - 1989:
“The Tiger” & “Fragments” - two plays by Murray Schisgal; directed by Mithran Devanesen for Stage-I (Stage manager).
1987 - 1988:
“The Mikado” (played Pish-Tush); “Pirates of Penzance”; “Trial by Jury” (acted & sang in all - ensemble) - Three musicals by Gilbert & Sullivan, directed by Handel Manuel & Mithran Devanesen for the Madras Players & the MPCS.
1986 - 1987:
“Oedipus” by Seneca (Ted Hughes translation) - directed by Alan Maley for the British Council Players (part of ensemble cast).
TRAINED WITH (in workshop situations and otherwise)
Patsy Rodenberg (Voice),
Alberto del Saz (Movement and Dance)
Andju Ormeloh (Masks, Commedia Dell’Arte)
Khalid Tyabji (Movement & Mime)
Northern Broadsides (Shakespeare)
The Royal Shakespeare Company (Shakespeare)
The “Theatre Trust” - an international theatre company with eclectic theatrical influences, operating out of India and Poland, influenced by Grotowski’s work and Indian traditional forms - as Technical Director, actor, performer, clown and playwright.