|Posted by deepakmorris on September 5, 2016 at 1:35 PM||comments (17)|
To write a wonderful story or a gripping play, look to the legends. George Bernard Shaw took the legend of Pygmalion and turned it into "My Fair Lady", a hit musical and movie.
What is the legend of Pygmalion? Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue that he himself had carved. That's the Greek legend.
Now look at how cleverly Shaw turned that legend into a teacher of speech "sculpting" a "block of stone" - Pygmalion is Professor Henry Higgins, who teaches speech and the "block of stone" is Eliza Doolittle. Higgins teaches (sculpts) Eliza on a dare but falls in love with her, his own sculpture.
Once you have that complication, you have the plot and the freedom to make your own end to the play.
|Posted by deepakmorris on November 8, 2015 at 12:25 AM||comments (13)|
This script is available free of charge to be performed wherever one wants:
(The COACH and PLAYER are talking)
PLAYER: Hey Coach, I hear they tried playing cricket in China
COACH: Really? How did they fare?
PLAYER: Well, they tried it with Yu bowling, Mi batting and Shi fielding
COACH: Me bowling?
PLAYER: No, Mi batting
COACH: You just said I was bowling
PLAYER: No, Yu was bowling
COACH: That’s bad English
PLAYER: Concentrate, Coach, we aren’t talking of billiards or snooker. There’s no English in Cricket
COACH: That’s bad grammar AND bad history. The English INVENTED the blinking game innit?
PLAYER: What does that have to do with Yu, Mi and Shi?
COACH: Who’s she?
COACH: She’s fielding?
COACH: But who’s she?
PLAYER: The fielder
COACH: The fielder’s a she?
COACH: When did cricket become a mixed game?
PLAYER: It was always mixed up if you ask me. You have two sides, one out in the field and one in
COACH: Correct. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out
PLAYER: Absolutely. When they are all out, the side that's o..........................................ut comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out
COACH: Crystal clear. So what was the problem?
PLAYER: It was Greek to the Chinese
COACH: The Chinese were trying to learn Greek?
PLAYER: No, Cricket
COACH: Greek Cricket?
PLAYER: Is that different from regular cricket?
COACH: I don’t know! I only know regular cricket. And these new-fangled Premier League things. Just not cricket, if you ask me
PLAYER: Yu doesn’t speak English. And why would he ask Mi?
PLAYER: Mi speaks a bit. But Yu and Shi are terrible
COACH: Me and she?
PLAYER: No, Yu and Shi
COACH: What’s wrong with my English?
PLAYER: Well Coach, I’ve seen your Snooker and your English is terrible
COACH: You’ve seen me play Snooker?
PLAYER: No I haven’t. I’ve seen Mi play cricket
COACH: How can you see you play cricket?
PLAYER: The same way I see Mi and Shi play cricket. On TV
COACH: You and she play cricket on TV?
PLAYER: All do. Yu, Mi and Shi
PLAYER: Ai’s the umpire
|Posted by deepakmorris on June 19, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (16)|
Very often a student or performer is asked to encapsulate a Shakespearean play in a few paragraphs. Having searched high and low and found only really LONG synopses (not really the fault of the writers, Shakespeare is notoriously difficult to summarise), I have decided to make my own short summaries of Shakespeare's plays, beginning with The Merchant of Venice.
Bassanio is a young man in Venice who loves Portia, a rich heiress. Bassanio is poor and thinks he must present himself to Portia in suitable clothes and pomp. He decides to borrow 3,000 ducats. He approaches his good friend Antonio, who is a wealthy merchant. However, Antonio has no ready cash, since he has put his money into his trading ships. Antonio approaches Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to borrow the money for Bassanio. Shylock is jealous of the Christian Antonio because he lends money without interest. Seeing a chance to trap Antonio, Shylock makes him sign an agreement that if the money and interest is not paid on the due date, Shylock can cut a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. Antonio is confident that his ships will return in time with money from his trade, so he agrees and signs the agreement.
Bassanio travels to Portia’s house. Portia’s late father has made a will that anyone who wants to marry Portia must solve a riddle to open the box that contains her portrait. Many have tried before and failed but Portia gives Bassanio a hint and he chooses the right box. Bassanio and Portia marry.
Bassanio comes to know that Antonio’s ships have not returned and may have sunk at sea. The due date for the loan has passed and Shylock is demanding the pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. Portia sends Bassanio to the Duke’s court to offer Shylock much more than the amount due to him if he drops the case.
After Bassanio leaves, Portia and her maid Nerissa disguise themselves as a male lawyer and his male clerk and go to the Duke’s court themselves. The Duke allows Portia to argue on behalf of Antonio.
Portia successfully argues that the agreement is for a pound of flesh only. No blood may be shed in the taking of the flesh. Shylock is trapped and loses the case, since he cannot take a pound of flesh without shedding blood. He is punished by having his property taken from him and given to his daughter, who has eloped with a Christian. Shylock himself is forced to convert to Christianity.
Antonio’s ships finally come in and everyone is happy except the ruined Shylock.
|Posted by deepakmorris on June 14, 2014 at 1:35 PM||comments (2)|
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.
|Posted by deepakmorris on May 28, 2013 at 12:45 AM||comments (2)|
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.
|Posted by deepakmorris on February 10, 2013 at 3:30 PM||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!"
|Posted by deepakmorris on January 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by deepakmorris on August 4, 2012 at 12:00 AM||comments (1)|
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:
|Posted by deepakmorris on July 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM||comments (3)|
(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!
|Posted by deepakmorris on July 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
This is a monologue I wrote for the "Chillin' In My Brown Skin" Asian Festival in Toronto years ago. Enjoy:
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)
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.
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.