Monday, January 25, 2010

Basheer Plays - The Prithvi Experience - 19 Dec 2009

2 more days and 4 more shows over. Once again, standing ovations! Shabana Azmi came for the afternoon show. Some of my ex-friends at work from Godrej were also in the audience. After the show I went up to my Godrej friends and was talking to them when one of them told me, "Shabana wants to talk to you". I turned around and saw her standing behind me.

"Fabulous", she said. "You guys were fabulous. I want to meet the other actors." I took her backstage and she congratulated the others.

The evening show was quite a learning experience. There was very little audible audience reaction and I felt my confidence and energy going lower and lower. At one point I had to make a deliberate effort to focus on the feeling behind the lines and the here-and-now of the play. I was surprised therefore, when they all stood up to applaud after the show. All the same, when I thanked the audience my heart was not in it. Washed off the make-up, washed and changed and was walking out of the auditorium when Rajiv came up to me, shook hands and said, "Great show. One of our best, and one of your best performances". I thought he was pulling my leg. After he moved away I asked Anushka,

"Is he serious?"

"I'm sure he is", she replied. "Otherwise he wouldn't be going around congratulating all the actors".

So I went back to Rajiv, and he explained how an audible reaction need not be the yardstick for measuring the quality of performance. Sometimes an audience can be silent and very attentive. Great new learning!

Another very important lesson that I learned last night is that your performance need not depend on your moods. You can consciously focus on experiencing the lines and the character, even when you are feeling low on confidence or energy, and still turn out a good performance. When acting on stage, you may not always be the best judge of what the audience is experiencing. Just put in all that you have, don't audit the performance or the play, and trust the process.

It is 9.40 am, Saturday, the penultimate day and the last day here for 'Moonshine'. Something tells me that we will have two great shows today and full audiences.


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