Monday, January 25, 2010

Basheer Plays - The Prithvi Experience - 15 December 2009

Yesterday the group spent the entire day at Prithvi. It was a great feeling, seeing the pictures of great plays and great actors who have performed there over the decades. Our pictures were also put up alongside.

We are staying, all together _ nearly 18 of us in a 3 bedroom apartment on the beach. This has been given to us free of cost by an actor friend who is passionate about theatre. She owns a fleet of helicopters and the spacious apartment must be worth at least 8 to 10 crores at the least. She has given it to us to use with a computer connected to the internet, music system, lots of mattresses, a stack of bedsheets and pillow covers, a well stocked fridge, and a Nepali butler who makes delicious tea and buttered toast for us in the morning. (God bless her with a thousand performances, and thunderous applause.)

The tea and buttered toast is not breakfast. Breakfast and lunch are at Prithvi and we all eat together in between the rehearsals and run-throughs. Its a wonderful community experience. It is beautiful to see the entire group sleeping all over the floor, sharing 3 washrooms without anyone having to hurry anybody up (the group has been staying together for various shows across the years and are used to each other's timings and routines), partying together in the evenings, and moving together as one unit with the underlying, overriding commitment to the performances.

The apartment is just a 10 minute walk ON THE BEACH away from Prithvi. What more could we possibly ask for? It also helps with the fitness routine. I and several others go for a walk-cum-jog on the beach around 6.30 in the morning. Here again groups club together based on shared preferences in terms of speed, distance, and direction.

Prithvi has a well stocked cafeteria - wide variety of food and beverages and very reasonably priced. Many well known people use the place to meet, plan productions, discuss theatre and other arts, or just chill out. Its got a certain ambience and you can sense that the people who come there respect the place. A special attraction is a very dignified elderly gentleman, with a grey pony-tail at the base of his shiny bald pate, who comes there religiously every evening, with a flute and a sruthi box. He sits on a parapet under a tree in one corner of the cafe, playing his flute, as some listen, some continue to chat, everyone respectfully and gratefully aware of the flute player. (May he play on for years to come).

Today is the first show day. Two shows. 6 pm and 9 pm. The tension lurks in the pit of the stomach. So won't be eating much today. Just enough to keep hunger away. It helps to have that lean feeling when the body needs to surrender to another character, a shared illusion, and 200 people who are watching every move, sharing and experiencing the dream that you and your co-actors are weaving with your physical forms and energy patterns.

Infinite magic. Profound meditation. Theatre is spirituality without the trappings and frills of 'holiness'.

Wish us luck. Wish the audience luck that they may have an unforgettable experience. Break a leg !

An excited, nervous, actor.


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