Monday, February 22, 2010

The Actor's Diary

Well here it is. The much awaited post is here. I can see long queues lining up outside. Wait! This is a blog post not a cinema hall!

So my dear fans, this is where I reveal all. You privileged readers get the first dope on the making of the next phenoMenon! 

K... Enough of hype. That bit should have attracted the eye-balls. 8 ). So here we go.

Well it all started with a lil write-up in the paper about auditions for a play. I called up and they asked me to come and audition. There was a fairly big crowd, people were constantly coming and going. There was the core bunch who were running the show. So I went and approached them. They gave me a small script and asked me to read from it. It was something funny. I seemed to have done quite well. I was called for the next round. I also came to know that it was a pantomime. Well, to be honest I didn't have a clue as to what that was so I came back home opened the dictionary and checked the word out. So then things started making sense.

So I went the next day and there was a huge crowd. We were all made to stand in a circle. We did some small exercises where we had to portray funny scenes in a single shot- like a photo. Then we had to mouth some funny lines and stuff like that.

Then comes the funny part- I was down with a bad bout of diarrohea. I couldn't follow up with the auditions and I thought well that's the end of that. 2 weeks later I thought well let me call up and see... maybe I'll get  tiny bitty role. Even that would be great. I called and the director said I could come over.

I did. And improv's were going on. Improv is short for improvisation. You are given a scene or a character and you have to enact it. By now we had the outline of the play so people were trying the different characters they wanted to portray. I just watched the first time. I didn't have a clue what needed to be done. After that day's proceedings the director singled me out and said that I would have to do an improv the next day.

So I went back home and I thought up an improv. I went the next day and performed it. And it went of superb. I got a real long loud applause and I was pleased as punch. I so badly wanted to portray the villain. I have written about this improv before. It's here.

So after my improv I went back and sat down with everyone. And I could hear whispers, people were saying- "you know this guy would make a fantastic Bond!".

Next day and the day after that nothing much happened. Then casting was going to be announced. There were going to be heroes, heroines, villains, the support cast etc. There were going to be 4 heroes. Superman, Harry Potter, Shaktimaan...and aloha... I became Bond... James Bond!

I love Bond. I love the movies, the books, the character everything about it. So I thought this was going to be fun. But now the problem comes. Bond is a suave, sophisticated, smart guy. We were doing a pantomime which is an over the top comedy. The two don't necessarily go with each other.

The thing with Pantomimes is that the director will tell the actors where he expects the scene to go. That's all. It's for the actors to come up with improvs by themselves. And I was having a horrid time with that. My lines wouldn't work. Quite often in the middle of a scene I wouldn't know what to do, what expression to portray. Initially thing had started of brilliantly for me... but now it was all going horribly wrong.

Oh... I forgot to add one more thing. Pantomimes have songs and dances. And I found out 2 things. 1- I'm a lousy singer. 2- I'm a lousy dancer. The dancing routines were simply terrifying. Thankfully I didn't have to sing.

You know when things have to go wrong they will. People were telling me my voice was not loud enough, my acting was pathetic, my dancing was even worse than that. I was going in to a shell and I didn't know what to do.

Everyone else was already in character. So they were coming up with their quirks. They were coming up with the spontaneous responses to situations and stuff like that. And I was totally and completely lost. I knew I'd made one big bloody mistake.

Then about 3 weeks from show time the director asked everyone to write feedback about what they felt about everything in the play. I was honest and I wrote that I was screwing up big time. The feedbacks were read out to everyone. Turns out that everyone else felt the same about me. : )

A couple of days after that the director called me aside and told me frankly that my character was not working. I agreed. He told me to come up with something quickly otherwise I'd be thrown out and they'd replace me with a professional. I was bringing the whole play down and that was not fair to the others. I agreed.

So I knew I was going to be thrown out. I was pondering on whether I should go for the show when it happens. It would be odd sitting in the audience after being a part of it for so long. On the other hand I wanted to know how the play would shape up. So I went for that day's improv with nothing to lose.

I don't know if it was the Steve Martin/ Rowan Atkinson videos I was watching, but that day my character clicked. I played a goofy Bond. A wannabe Bond. And from then on things started falling in to place. I started building rapport with my fellow actors. My character started working, our scenes started working.

I was the last guy to get in to character. Most of the scenes had come out already. So I didn't have as many lines as say the other 4 heroes. That added to my resentment initially. But later I didn't care too much about it. You see I was still a hero and that meant I would have a lot of time on stage. And dialogue is only one part of acting. More important than that is emoting. For that you have to get in to character to be able to pull it off. Now that I finally had my character I was able to emote properly and even my emotions were getting noticed. I was thrilled.

So finally the shows came. Our first show was for a school. Our whole performance was not up to the mark. It was my first time on stage. So I made more than a few mistakes. Like for eg- I would leave stage as my normal self. You can't do that. You have to leave in character. I had to leave like the goofy Bond.

Sat night show. The crowd was just awesome. I think the crowd helped me a lot. When you crack that first joke and the audience laughs... it's one of the best feelings in the world. I think I gave a good performance there.

Sunday morning I was tired. I had to run in the morning to meet a friend. Show was in the evening and night. I don't knw what but I just didn't feel right about Sunday evening show. And I didn't perform very well. No one said anything to me. But I felt it inside. I didn't have the energy. I felt I'd let myself down. I think I had too many things on my mind.

So before Sun night show I got in to costume and then I just sat on a bench just behind the auditorium and closed my eyes to everything. Guys were all coming to stare at me. I was like the "Bond Buddha!".I didn't care. I just did it. I don't believe in meditation and all generally. But that time I just felt like doing it and I did.

And I think I gave my best performance on Sunday evening. I was totally completely in character. I had energy. I didn't miss anything( at least nothing that I can remember!). It was a good show for me and most of the cast too. It was great.

So that was my acting sojourn. I had a blast. I have learnt many things about myself. I have learnt that I love acting. I have learnt to respect people who are actors. It's not as easy as it seems. It is most definitely not.

I hope I will get to do more plays in my life. Crossing my fingers. : )


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back from the Blast

Hi folks. I know I haven't been blogging quite as regularly as I used to. But it's only because life was getting incredibly hectic. Mornings I had to dedicate time to my work. And evenings were taken up by rehearsals. I'd get back home only by 11. And after all that running and dancing you really don't feel like sitting in front of a monitor.

The play went off really well. We did 4 shows and all were full houses. I will blog about my experience soon. But let this post be like a warm up. You know... so that I can get back in to the groove.

The crazy schedule of the past few weeks means I've not been able to do many of the things that I like doing. Blogging is one of them. Reading is another. Doing the morning sudoku, stuff like that. Small things. But things that you know... make you you or me me. Things that one enjoys doing. I mean I want to do so many things everyday of my life. But I almost never get in to any routine.

Why is it like that? Why is it so difficult to strike a balance? Life shouldn't be so complicated. Life shouldn't be about having to make a choice between 2 (or more great) options. We should be able to bake the cake and eat the whole thing too.

And the key to unlock this great mystery of life is discipline. Yes... the dreaded 'D' word. My life is one big gigantic battle with this 'D' word. And, quite frankly, I always end up having to wave the white flag.

Well, not any more I said to myself last night. I'd taken a day off after the madness of the weekend(we had the shows over the weekend). So I told myself- 'Tuesday morning and you are going to get back in to the groove and extract vengeance on D. Muhahahahahahahaha!'

I decided that I was going to get up early(by 6). Take Kasper out for his walk. Then go for a swim and then get back and get to work and...

So I got everything ready for the next morning. Put my mobile alarm for 6, my table clock alarm for six and off I went to sleep at 11. Kasper himself is an early riser.( He's been thoroughly spoilt by my folks. Gets up at 6 in the morning and all. Sheeeesh!). So in any case I had to get up early to take him out.

And so the next morning I opened my eyes and saw Kasper lying at my feet. I felt around for my mobile and looked in to the screen and realized that it had switched off- no battery. And then I finally looked in to the table clock and that had stopped at exactly 12:15. So I went in to the drawing room to look at the time. It was 8AM. Everything in the universe had conspired against me.

K... this is bit like Tom & Jerry isn't it? Me and the D. Gosh! Will somebody please change the script please. At least once please. Pleeeeech!