Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Four To Go + One More
WHAT THE PROPHECY TOLD ME IN MY SLEEP
Remember: The silence which surrounded Milton's head
Was not the end
It was the preface to paradise
WHAT I INTEND TO DO - SINCE ONCE UPON A TIME IS NOW
I want to memorise the facts
For things have no past
Haven't you noticed the disappearance of language, songs, and simple food eating habits
WHY I WANT TO CONCEAL MYSELF, TODAY
I do not want to be a bronze statue in a museum
I want to transform into a keyboard, and alphabetise other people's treasures
Their ideologies, idiosyncrasies and irrelevancies
MY WIFE FED PROFANITIES TO THE PIGEONS THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW
Because one day a dinner guest swallowed all her expensive alcohol
And didn't realise it
Instead at 3 am when the shops were shut, he said:
"Can I've some more? My glass is empty."
THE HISTORY OF AN ACTOR
For years I have been trying to figure out
Whether he was a celebrity in a mohalla in another city
Or a nobody in a rival theatre company
Or someone from my neighbourhood who collected match sticks, and firewood for her own funeral
Before she passed away
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
If I Had My Way ...
If I Had My Way ... plays would have an expiry date labelled on their foreheads.
If I Had My Way ... I would have a two-minute silence before every show in order to express my sympathy with the impoverishment of theatre in India.
If I Had My Way ... I would ask of Lorca, why does he discomfit his reader? Almost all his characters live in the presence of death.
If I Had My Way ... I would commission a vague, clever sort of play about everything. After all, we Indians have become generalists, and very rarely are creative thinkers.
If I Had My Way ... I would form a guild of producers. The theatre needs producers to produce our cheap, shabby, half visible, half audible, drama methods. Which is what Bollywood is about. But Bollywood has Salman Khan.
If I Had My Way ... I would translate Shakespeare into Tulu. Because even a poor translator of Shakespeare is much better known than an original inventor of ideas.
If I Had My Way ... I would want to see a play that is truly realistic. Unfortunately, that term is used loosely on the stage where most of the so-called realistic plays deal only with the appearance of things. A trulyrealistic play deals with what might be called the soul of the characters.Strindberg's DANCE OF DEATH, perhaps? It deals with that thing which makes the character that person and no other.
If I Had My Way ... everyone would be forced to read the shabdha sadhana of Muktibodh, in a day and age in which politics, media, cricket commentators have hijacked words, and the true writer has become his own enemy.
If I Had My Way ... I would ban the word, parampara. We may not want to become a suburb of the USA, but then neither should we remain a shanty. We may want to preserve our soul, but what about an unhealthy, unhappy mind?
If I Had My Way ... I would remind critics that the best examples of Total Theatre and Physical Theatre are not Artaud, Brecht, Peter Brook, Grotowoski, but THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and LION KING, which have entertained millions of theatre audiences. And earned millions of dollars.
If I Had My Way ... I would want to bring Sartre and Tagore face to face with each other, in the after-life. Sartre would say, "Hell is other people." And Tagore would exclaim, "So is heaven."
If I Had My Way ... I would initiate a national debate on, is the theatre a discipline or a profession? Or is it a service or manufacturing industry with a growth rate?
If I Had My Way ... I would invoke Kedar Nath Singh's poem that leaves the pages of a slim tattered volume of poems and springs into action while the poet is imploring it to return. I would search for that poem. I would file a FIR and report. Poem missing. Description: words, words, words.
If I Had My Way ... actors would be fitted with a heel. Even Achilles is insufferable without his heel.
If I Had My Way ... men of genius would be blessed with special interests. You see, Shakespeare would never have re-written HAMLET or OTHELLO or ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, if Lord Southhampton had not given him 1000 Pounds. Speaking of Shakespeare, the popular taste of his day was worse than ours. His worst play, TITUS ANDRONICUS was most popular, performed hundreds of times in his life, whereas HAMLET was only performed 12 times, and KING LEAR, once or twice.
If I Had My Way ...I would introduce QC labs and ISO 90014 certification in the theatre. That way plays would be benchmarked and there would be no counterfeiting of bad plays.
If I Had My Way ... I would eliminate apartheid from theatre. That is, the apartheid of ticket pricing which prevents millions of poor from enjoying a good play.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Two: Good To Be True
The hang man
In a rare moment of retribution
To colour dye
With an optimistic yellow
The loose strands
For the next candidate
Sometimes you're so busy
Discovering new friends
You rarely recall the ache
You rarely recall the gentleness
You rarely touch the marks of a lost world
That gazes at you
Hurrying, from here to there
Monday, December 10, 2007
In appreciation of Astad Deboo’s work
For many years
I sought treasures
In far-away lands, across the seas in celestial palaces
I hoped to become a rich man
For many years I read the Holy Texts, and even Nagarjuna
Exchanged views with a sage on a hill-top
I hoped to become a very wise man
I searched for wisdom in the books of the world
Until, one day I met a solitary old tree
Who had grown wise
Accumulating treasures of leaves.
Everyday, I devour my meal:
Of wheat and millet
Organic plants and spices
Which praise the earth
For generating invaluable fortunes
Which one day, I vow to return to Her.
I had no place I could call my home
I am a citizen of the world
I have no address
I am a visitor on this planet
I am merely passing through
In the hope that I would befriend someone, anyone
On this trip.
A prophecy was murmured in my sleep!
Remember: The tranquility which surrounded Thyagaraja’s head
Was not the end
It was the beginning of music
Every time my friends ask me for the road into the sea
I show them a path
They don’t see it
Maybe they don’t want to…
Maybe they cannot sense the goodness of the waves
From the distant shore
With the calliper
Could not enter the Sea
And swirl along with
He sat on the shore
He dreamt about make-believe
Creatures who whirled out of the foam
In the dark of night
To play children games with him
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Six Citizen Shorts
Through The Royal Passage
The Sacred Tomb of the King
Built Secret Underground Tunnels
Of A Municipal Sewerage
Was Promised To The People
Of The Land
An Election Campaign
In The Azure Sky
Was Meant To Herald
Of Striking Down
The Solitary Metereologist
Where The Citizens Pray
Who Win Wars
The Two Epigrammists
Knowing They Would Have To Brush
The Polysyllabic Phrases
And High Theory
Are Rushing From Street
To Renamed Street
Are City Crowds
In The Wrong Direction
The Wise Man
He Sat Upon It
About The Inevitability of The Historical Processes