ReInvent the Wheel please #UniquePath #YouAreYourDream #Entrepreneurship #Art

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Find your USP! This is oft repeated – find your Unique Selling Proposition… find out what is Unique about what you do / make and then Sell the heck out of it… this will differentiate you, and also make you more memorable amongst the several also rans. This one is easy to figure…

But what if what you choose to do is so UNIQUE that veritably the reason why its so Unique is because no one else thought it worth doing…?!

In that case what you are doing is going to face Stiff resistance, even stiffer non co-operation, sullen nods of disapproval and “friendly” warnings, and generally people wildly indicating to you that you are driving in the wrong lane…

#Evam went into the Entrepreneurship of Theatre in 2003; We hired our first full time Arts Manager in 2005; We managed a National Theatre festival in 2005; We did a National tour of a play in 2009; We started a Theatre based Corporate Training entity in 2010; We took a play to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013; We ventured into Standup Comedy without knowing even that its is Standup Comedy or what is Standup Comedy, in 2009; We did out first tour of the USA in 2014; we have now hired our own Actor rep in 2016 #EvamLab – and basically we still exist, like the Tiger and the White Elephant… is there still a White Elephant? Last few Tigers surely! Evam is going strong… touch wood and grease paint!

Now these were all projects / ventures for which there was no precedent… no reason to get into doing any of this except the notion that this will be New – secondary that it was New to the world, but primarily that it was New to Us…!
New to YOU is New enough!

Its like inventing a Wheel – and there goes the saying ‘Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!’ – i say ‘Invent it again! Coz the new thing won’t be a Wheel… its be a journey of learning… a unique curve of learning… one that, whether you succeed or lose, will put you into a vantage point to share notes with the Inventors of the Wheel themselves!’ – Now That is an Elite Club! Not just a bunch of Wheel users…

All best Artists are Self taught – and then later on learn the Art / Skill from someone else from Skills upgrading… thats the best form of Learning!

Unless you have invented it for yourself you’ll never get the whole picture… you will not fully understand what it is to fail or succeed…

When there is a Unique journey ahead of you – it could be…

Unique because no one else thought of doing it… then this one is Gold! It makes you an Inventor! This is also Rare- coz at some level there is nothing left to be invented!

Unique because no one else thinks its worth doing – then go do it if you feel convinced despite the warnings… this was #Evam – we felt convinced that there was Gold at the end of the murky Rainbow… so much so that we knew how to invent Gold, by the time we reached the end of the Rainbow!

Unique because its NEW to you… then its worth doing still… do it yourself and fail plenty- before asking someone else ‘How do i do this? Any Google videos? Any tips? Any Tutorials?’ – those are all learning hacks… they will make you learn, but you’ll always be a hacker!

#YouAreYourDream

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27/f/5’11 or Tale of a Tall Girl: The Journey

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Sunil Vishnu K shares the journey of creating the play ‘Tale of a Tall Girl or 27/f/5’11”  in the form of a 3 part blog


Part 1: CURTAIN CALL

July 31, 2016 at around 10 ish pm, the Short+Sweet finals have just finished, awards are being announced, we are waiting for the results… a little nervous, a little excited, a little of everything. It had been 60 days since we first started on this play, 45 days of rehearsals, and then this moment of waiting for the results like in a inter school culturals and then  the announcement “The Best Production of 2016 goes to.. Tale of a Tall Girl” and there are people shouting and whistling and rest – I can’t remember much.

Apparently Shruti (the playwright)and I walked on to the stage. Joined by our team mates (Mrithula, Abishekh, Shalini, Akshay and Kalesh) we were awarded the trophy by Ms Devanesan. We cheered our guts out.. People clapped and so on..(Thank god for cameras which captured the moment, because for me it was quite a blur). It was a high yes, a moment of celebration, a roller coaster of emotions, curtain call happened and then the next moment it was  “Oh my god, its over, is that it? What next?”

And in the next few hours which followed, the night sleep (which I couldn’t get much) and the  morning  after (which was groggy as hell), I found myself thinking “Yes, we won, yes we got a trophy, yes it is a great feeling, but I feel something else as well”

This feeling.. when your play ends on stage and you are a little, a little lost.

This feeling.. when your show ends that day, and you don’t want the night to end.

This feeling.. when you wake up the next morning you feel lost empty, sad, exhausted, not knowing what to do, you cringe, you feel good(as if its your birthday) and sad (as if you lost some meaning of life) – all at once… all in the same moment and you don’t feel like doing anything!

This feeling I felt years back, when at Sankalp, MICA ( 1999-2001) – me, Karthik and a whole batch of ‘Marketing Communications’ students would go out of the way, create plays and then as the curtain call happened, embrace each other and cry. I used to think it was because, we were going to pass out of college soon, never do a play again together and hence the feeling.

But I was wrong. With every play that I have been part of, from school to college to now, this feeling persists. It doesn’t matter if the play was in college canteen or Prithvi, whether the play got bouquets or brickbats, if there were 8 people to see it or 800, if you won awards or got banned, this feeling remains.

And that’s when I realised.. this is the feeling when you create something for the first time and share it with the world. And its not just me as an artist, it could be your play, a painting, a song, a project report, a ppt, a radio show, a proposal, a contract, a sharing of your innermost thoughts – as long as you are true, it is the most exciting and the most nervous and the most scary and the most brave and also the most humbling feeling in the world, because you expose a part of you to the world and say

“Hi! this is me, sharing a part of my life with you, err.what say u?”

And when that moment ends, however the world reacts, good bad ugly, you feel exhausted and can’t help but saying  “Oh my god, its over, is that it? What next?”

#evamlab #theatre #artist #short+sweet #tallgirl212

(p.s: Funnily, I may not remember much for the night of 31st July award ceremony, but I do remember every detail of the first show of ‘Tale of a Tall Girl 27/f/5’11” – that  gave me more goosebumps !)

The play premiered at the ‘short+sweet’ fest south 2016 and won ‘best production’ award. Written by Shruti Parasuram, directed by Sunil Vishnu K, Production by Syama and Priyanka N Ram, lighting design by Vasanth Subramaniam, photography by Cinthoorika Dinesh, design by Smrithi Amareendran ,SFX by John Pradeep, performed by Mrithula Chetlur, Kalesh Ramanand, Akshay Yesodharan , Shalini Vijayakumar and Abishekh Joseph George

-Sunil Vishnu K

 

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Orthodoxically me!

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Praveen Kumar is a Bangalore based stand up comedian who has been voted as one of the top 10 stand up comedians by TOI in 2011 and by CNN IBN in 2014. He has performed around 950 shows in over 17 cities in India and beyond. He also has been featured in the nomination list of Forbes Top 100 celebrities in 2014 and in 2015. He is the only clean comedian in India.

P.S: Biriyani is his favourite thing in this whole world.


After I launched my first solo show – The Tickle Minded in Jan 2014, I was a little out of focus in terms of solo shows. Whatever new jokes I wrote, I added to The Tickle Minded and I continued the same for a year which clearly shows the lack of maturity as a comic. Then I had an idea of a TV Program – specific show called The Idiot box and I couldn’t get my creativity flushed out beyond 25 mins and stopped working on it. Luckily in the last quarter of 2015 I came up with an idea of a story telling show and thus evolved Kancheepuram To Koramangala (K2K) which was launched exactly after 2 years of Tickle Minded in Jan 2016.

I did some 13 runs of K2K in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. I learnt tons and tons from those 13 shows. I got focus. I got to know what to do. I wanted to do a theme based show. I thought of doing a traffic based show; I thought of doing food based show; I thought of combining both and calling it Traffic Jam (insert slow claps). That connect, that feel and that depth was not there. After hours and hours of diving into my heart and thoughts and after losing 5000 strands of hair (ok that happened naturally) I came up with the theme which will have a great connect with the audience because they had known me like that and I am actually like that. Orthodoxically Me.

I was brought up in a small town and eventually in an orthodox manner. I don’t smoke; I don’t drink alcohol; I was not in any relationships before my marriage; had an Arranged marriage; I don’t understand many technological advancements like Snapchat, weird smilies, the way these teenagers are dressing up etc.. So I thought let me make it as a theme and talk about it. And thus came Orthodoxically Me. In this 70 mins show I talk about all the topics mentioned above and much more.

Now that I have a deadline of Sep 4th to launch the show, I am putting pressure on myself to write everyday, rehearse everyday and perform in open mics almost everyday. So last 2 months and the present month was and will be only writing, performing, learning, correcting and repeating. It is lot of pressure. But hey, I am enjoying that. I can relax after the launch.

I am also really honoured and glad to be a part of evam and also to be working with them to launch the show in many cities. Special thanks to KK for the lovely ideas for Photoshoot and poster. The poster is gathering lot of eyeballs now and looks like it might even convert to sales. And extremely thankful to Vasanth and Rabhinder for executing the ideas and making things happen.

Launching the show in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Coimbatore, Cochin and other cities. I am really looking forward to this and hopefully you guys are too. See you in one of the shows in one of the cities. Thank you.

Orthodoxically,
Me.

-Praveen Kumar

 

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The Joy of Managing the Hindu Theatre Fest

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11 editions of the Hindu Theatre Festival have gone by where evam has managed it from end-to-end. I have been part of / managed the festival for the past 4 years. As we start gearing up with prep work for the festival in Aug-Sept in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, my mind went through the process of analysing what gives us most joy in doing a project like this? What keeps the same set of people excited enough to run this year on year?

To me, the answer, among other things, is working together as a team.

I know, I know. You are thinking, ‘Hey every project in every company is delivered by a team. What’s so special or different in this?’

Well, first of all it’s a really huge team that comes together to pull this off. Close to a hundred people on behalf of evam come together on this. And even if one of these 100 miss out on anything or don’t do their part with ownership and care, it could lead to some really glaring problems / issues.

Secondly, the wide array of portfolios we handle in the project and the sheer scale of it all. All these in multiple cities.

Promotions – Postering across the cities, pamphleting, on-ground activations, e-mailers, college activations, corporate connects.
Production – Sets, props, costumes, back-stage work, transport logistics
Hospitality – Taking care of the travelling teams all the way from pick up at the airport to drop back for their return journey.
Ticketing – Handling tickets, cash handling, managing seating.
In-venue Management – Complete decor, branding, crowd management, show day flow.

Finally, handling close to 10000 audience across the cities. Making sure each and every one of them has a warm and smooth experience watching some of the best theatre productions.

Months of hard work and planning, coming to fruition, and actually getting to see it all pan out, is an un-matched feeling.

Looking forward to it :)

– Vasanth Subramaniam

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So, you teach acting?

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Aparna Jaishankar is a freelance trainer with Happy Cow, evam’s children’s division. She has always loved the world of stories whether it is oral, aural or visual. Right now she enjoys kindling that passion in young ‘uns.


 

 

Its been a year since I started working with children and the journey has been rewarding. At social gatherings, many a time I’m asked what I do and theatre always elicits a pleasant reaction. A frequently asked question is what exactly is taught in a theatre class? And, if my child has gone on stage once is that all that is there to learn.

I used to grapple to answer that question. There, obviously, is so much more to theatre than‘acting’. Now, after dealing with dozens of children, I have more clarity. I believe the most important lesson a child learns in a theatre class is that each one is part of the whole. They learn to collaborate. All groups will have a few hyperactive, expressive children, a few who absorb everything you say like a sponge, a few “I’m here ‘coz my mom forced me’” and a few who are too shy to even greet another person. Each one has a place in the group and children are encouraged to respect the other. Individual personalities are nurtured for the group’s success. The change that one gets to see over a period of time is that the assertive children learn to listen to other ideas, the sulky children are intrigued, the reticent children start voicing their ideas and slowly but surely they all start learning from each other. And because each one has contributed from idea to execution of the final production, the sense of achievement they feel on show day is exhilarating.

Another googly I frequently field is that, how do you know if a program is successful? So how does one measure the success of a theatre program? I love the excitement and energy of the children on stage on show day. And a clockwork production always gives me goosebumps. But for me its not only about the final production. I am satisfied when a three-year old, who has been bawling for the first two weeks of the program, suddenly decides to participate. I love it when children ideate and make their own props and costumes, crooked corners and all. I feel immense pride when a child volunteers and successfully manages the back stage. I almost jig about in joy when toddlers remember their cue on stage. But the real success of the program is what happens after its over. The next time a child reads a book, he/she will do the voices of the characters in his / her head. The next time a child writes something, he/she will visualise the whole scene. The next time a child plans something, a thought might be spared for the back end preparations required. The next time a shy child might feel more confident while meeting new people. The next time a child might be more open to new experiences. The next time …..

If a tiny seed to that effect has been planted by a learning program, I would deem the program a roaring success.

– Aparna Jaishankar

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The Open MIC Community

KK 10The Open Mic is the reducing of the distance between a stimulus to the Mind, a feeling generated, the processing of it, the expression, and the resonance it creates, and its ultimate healing…

Doesn’t sound much unlike a Rebellion or a Movement… and like any such Mass movement that sought to purge, the Microphone is at the centre of it! Don’t use a Weapon – use a Mic instead…

That’s what this movement has meant to me!

I did my first Open Mic only in the 4th year of my Standup Journey – coz there were no such concept that existed before that in my City… what we did before was technically an Open Mic- just that we opened it to ourselves and then after show we packed and took the Mic back home!

But the first time I stepped into a democratic Open Mic forum, I suddenly felt like I was part of something bigger than my own self mutilating creative whipping corner of Standup Comedy… there was a kindred brethren out there, of similar masochistic mind-frigged crazy ones out there seeking a listening… some had jokes, some had feeling, some had a voice…

Since then its the Community that I feel most home at, I walk in to any Open Mic forum and I expect not to be recognized, but only to be acknowledged, as – I don’t know who you are, but hey we are all in this together this evening – lets light up our souls a bit… sometimes we burn, sometimes we glow!

And there are somethings I have begun to expect from this community – yes, I have Expectations of this little community that I am a part of…
Stay Communicated – talk before a show, if you have mind-space. But talk after the show – that is key. Be Honest in feedback – be generous in suggestions – be critical to the face – hug at the end of it!
Help Another – Help another artist find a spot – encourage an outsider to try the craft – give them the joy that someone gave you… this stage is meant to be shared and the movement will grow when shared more… its a movement – not a rationed limited!
Don’t form cliques – go surprise yourself and meet and chat up with new people – pick their minds, and allow them to pick yours… start new conversations -this is the ultimate geek fest – open up and pull that mask off… This is not the local street Adda – don’t make it familiar to you… let it always be strange and new – Stay Awkward!
Don’t bitch about another, when they aren’t there – Bitch to their face and do it with a sense of humour – like you do with all topics and your material… My best friends who are comics are assholes who crap on me on a bad day – I love them and the liberty they take!
Don’t do your bit and disappear – hang around, soak it in… let someone reward you with a thought or conversation…
Keep doing it… let it become a rigour – turn up – maybe you won’t perform, then listen… write at the open mic – write post – let the envy of another’s great set spur you forward; allow yourself to kick yourself when you saw someone else develop your premise… turn up and experience it!
Expand the universe – go setup one at your world… maybe its your office, your school, your building society – whatever – go spread it further and pay it forward…

Thank you Open Mic Communities all around – you make me want to be a Better Comic!

Karthik Kumar

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We would have quit in Year 3/4 #YouAreYourDream

Karthik Kumar 1Year 1-4 we were audacious (evam) – we had made a claim that we would make a living in the Arts; that we would make Theatre count professionally; and that we would make people value it and make enough people interested and get them paying for it; and that we would build a Brand!

We did all of this actually! Our shows were all sold out – except for the occasional flop; younger people were finding coming to the Theatre ‘cool’; we had efficient management systems to handle all operations and hungry for increasing revenues; we had become a ‘Brand’ that was being touted around in Success Stories and Startups – and this at a time when neither ‘Startup’ nor ‘Theatre’ spelled optimism or sounded buzzy!

BUT! We were operationally bleeding… Auditorium costs on the model of Performing Theatre were prohibitive – Suppliers unfriendly and not understanding – no Eco system beyond us, because all other players were only keen on keeping the form Amateur and hence dependence on ‘Sponsors’ was not considered abhorrent, as we were beginning to consider it, and no Full Time talent available to perform our shows year round – we could only use them when they could make time ‘available’!

We didn’t tell anyone this – We continued to peddle stories of Profitability and Optimism… only because we couldn’t afford to give up the fight! Why? Because Evam was a symptom of Optimism in the world of the Performing Arts – even the most severe critics of our Artistic output held a mental candle to the need we were filling in the market for the future of the Arts and Sustainability…

We lied! We told everyone that we were doing Fab! Coz outwardly it did seem so – Houses were packed, and more and more shows were being lined up, new markets were being opened… we were a mini phenomenon!

We paid everyone we promised to pay – we had very few full time resources – we couldn’t afford to over pay our talent, and therefore didn’t insist on them losing their ‘Amateur’ status – we weren’t paying ourselves… this was bleeding! We were winning Battles – the War seemed lost for sure!

I didn’t sleep many a night! Not many knew why… Oh these Artists are never satisfied, they lamented!

Why didn’t we Quit?

I knew we had to channelize this attention and goodwill coming our way – the light was at the end of the tunnel… but the tunnel was getting brighter somewhat! People were taking us seriously… they knew we meant ‘Value’!

It was upto us to find out what People wanted to do with the Arts – how did they want to engage with it… not just figure how we wanted to Engage with it… the answer lay in the world outside – and how they wanted to play with our ‘Produce’!

On that foundation of Operational negativity – but Brand Positivity – the entire road ahead… we mapped Theatre onto Human Resource needs in Organisations, onto Children’s developmental needs, Hobby Explorations of the Urban ‘Curious’, even Societal release for the Stressed with Comedy and Satire… the rest is history – and last Quarter’s P/L!

But why didn’t we Quit?
Coz doing what we did didn’t feel like Hard work!

Even the hardest obstacles, and greatest failures seemed like worth tiding over…

The Wins were mighty Sweet and highly personal – no one knew when ‘we’ felt like we won, only we did!

Coz we genuinely felt that we were making a difference in a field where noone was doing what we had set out to do – like Explorers in the unknown with a Treasure map to Rumoured Rewards – a Map that no one believed… but our Water compass was going mad indicating something!

It didn’t feel like Losing… it didn’t feel like Winning, yet, either!

Today we are on our way – but resilient much – we know we can power through the next Wave that could come crashing at us…

But as long as you are Operationally Profitable – the game hasn’t even begun… the Value is not reflecting… you are creating something and havent been able to make the World place a higher value on it.

Hey Grofers, Flipkart, Zomato and all you Eyeball seeking Business models – I don’t understand how you think of yourself as Valuable, when your Customers see you as Cheap! Even your investors don’t believe in you – they believe in the ‘time’ being right for you… that time will pass, and then what?

Make the customer see value – and that relationship is the starting point!

#YouAreYourDream #Theatre #Startup

Karthik Kumar

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