English Drama in Pune

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Don't try to be an actor because you couldn't be a scientist

Posted by deepakmorris on May 11, 2013 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Many people contact me, asking to help them become actors - on stage, in films, or in serials.

That's not a problem. I'm always willing to help someone become an actor.

However, their attitude always seems to suggest that acting is not so much an art or a science but simply being in the right place at the right time. They are not looking for training in acting, they are looking for some miraculous opportunity that will catapult them to fame.

Doesn't happen.

Scientists study hard and long and some still don't make it big.

That's acting. Study hard and long and there's still no guarantee you'll make it big.

 

 

 

 

 

Music, rhythm and acting

Posted by deepakmorris on November 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I think it is very, very important for an actor to explore music. Music, far from being something just a few "gifted" people enjoy, is actually very much a part of every human being's speech and action. When someone has "an accent" (everyone thinks someone from a different country has an accent whereas he/she doesn't), rhythm, cadence, is very much part of that accent.

Play an upbeat song and a child automatically moves to the beat. Try it. If you think you're bad at music, just play an upbeat song for a child on your music system and see how it delights in moving to the music. No one taught it. It's doubtful if it had the chance to see someone dance but it dances!

Now see how changing the beat can actually change the music! The following is the original "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" by the Shirelles:


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See what happens to it when the beat is changed to Reggae:

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Note how Gray stays within the melody but the beat frees him to experiment more with the notes. How can this help you deliver lines differently? Can you change the beat so the lines become fresh because the notes you hit in your speech (oh yes, we hit notes in our speech) are different?


Making sense of a vague script

Posted by deepakmorris on August 4, 2012 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

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:

Making sense of a vague script

Teaching Four Year Old Girls - A Monologue

Posted by deepakmorris on July 14, 2012 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

(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!

 

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.

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 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 :)


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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!