English Drama in Pune

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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.

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 :)

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.

How to stage kiss

Posted by deepakmorris on January 1, 2011 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Just thought I'd share...


Hit Reload if the video doesn't work right off the bat... It'll work after a few tries, believe me :)


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


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.

How to get rid of stage fright

Posted by deepakmorris on April 26, 2010 at 11:11 AM Comments comments (0)

I come across this quesion very often on sites that enable people to post questions on theatre.


What usually happens is that a person commits to a performance, realises during rehearsals that he is terrfied of being on stage - if not terrified then scared, worried, mildly anxious, you get the drift.


And they want to know how to get rid of this stage fright, pronto.


There isn't a safe way to do that at this stage, unfortunately. Wodehouse has a brilliant take on the effect of alcohol on a speaker in one of his stories, where Gussie Fink-Nottle creates absolute havoc at a school prize-distribution ceremony by taking to the stage as Chief Guest, soused to the gills.


The thing is, the ONLY way, the absolutely, utmostly, infinitely, sure way to beat stage fright is to be on stage as often as you can. There is no other way.


It need not be a formal stage, with proscenium, curtains, flies, etc. It need not even be a stage where a rehearsed performance is taking place.


The practice, in fact, must start in school, answering questions in class. Think about it; that's a stage! The child has an audience - the teacher and fellow students. In that audience are the critics and detractors, those who would, by design, malice or other motivation, demoralise the child. The bullies, in case my meaning is not clear.


The more one gets onto any kind of stage, the less the fear becomes until one day you can stand in front of an audience of thousands and be as comfortable as you would be in your bedroom.


How to get rid of stage fright?


Get on stage, from the time you're five!

Theatre Superstions

Posted by deepakmorris on March 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM Comments comments (0)

Oh, those superstitions!

Check this out:

http://www.steppenwolf.org/watchlisten/backstage/detail.aspx?id=23

Details quite a few theatrical superstitions, by which I mean superstitions related to theatre.

I think we theatre people are superstitious so we can show non-theatre people that we belong to an exclusive, worldwide club of superstitious theatre people!

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.