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.

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