We are all set for the premiere of our first play this year “Once Upon a Bak Bak Tree – Monkey See Monkey Do” in association with Karadi Tales, this Saturday, January 22nd at Bangalore and on February 4th and 5th in Chennai. This play has been directed by Amit Singh and has been created by actors predominantly from our brand new venture evam Lab. Evam lab, incubates talent and gives the artists an opportunity to be in the ARTS full time. These artists – workshop together, learn new skill sets together and also come together to create and deliver fun entertainment and engagement solutions.
What is evam Lab? An Actor’s perspective:
Abishek says – I am very grateful for the fact that it gives me a constant source of income. Because of which I don’t have to worry about whether I could get by the month or not; the stipend itself is a huge plus point for me as I can focus on what I would like to do – acting, being part of different projects. As the name suggests, its a LAB. Different ingredients are put together and different actors work together with different skill sets and you, as an actor also grow from it. You look at somebody else, you interact with different kinds of people, actors and personalities and somewhere down the line, you start imbibing those qualities also. And the most important thing, that evam Lab gives me is, it tells me that there is so much more to learn. There is a constant need to grow. There is a constant need to up your skill set. And that is incredible for an actor. Because if a moment he or she feels complacent or feels satisfied, they will just plateau. And I love being a part of evam Lab and its amazing.
Shalini says- evam Lab to me over the last one year, has sort of become family right now. Especially travelling with the same team, doing the same plays, its a familiar feeling right now. Its like my comfort zone in terms of working with the people and content and format and everything. But besides that, I think that evam Lab has given me regular work and I feel more like an Actor. I can confidently now say that I am a Theatre Actor to people, which I never used to before. So now I tell people that “I do photography and am a Theatre Actor” only because of evam Lab because I constantly have work every month and I have rehearsals and stuff. Its giving me work and supporting me in terms of money also. This is a great platform for actors who are looking out to do this full time. Because, this makes us feel we are doing more work and this doesn’t make us feel that we are only giving and not getting anything back. That feeling that you get from theatre where you are just investing time and not getting anything back, not reaping as much benefits as you would expect- this does not happen in evam Lab. It feels like a give and take. We work together, brainstorm, get new ideas, explore new things, and have fun – it really feels good to be a part of something like this and am glad am a part of this.
“Once upon a Bak Bak Tree – Monkey See Monkey Do” has been a process that evolved over three months of brainstorming, working together, improvising, improvising and more improvising. The cast and team have literally become a Monkey family. We had much difficulty in making them giving their replies to this following bunch of questions, coz they literally turned into monkeys :D
- How did you expect this play to shape up? How is it now?
Amit Singh: I expected the play to shape up well. Its decent now and we can do much better.
Vikas (evam lab): I was also a part of the Bak Bak play that happened last year. This play in comparison with the previous one, has been devised in a way in which even grown-ups would enjoy.
Jayanth: At the beginning we thought this play would take a lot of time shape up but now ,post the 3 months , all it needs is a little polishing and we are all set to jump on the stage.
- How do you think the kids would react to your characters? esp. Metro!
Saadiya (evam lab): I think the kids will love all the characters and of course METRO a bit more. This production doesn’t have that patronizing feel kids shows sometimes have. We know our audience and we treat them like we’d treat any audience. Plus the energy is on another level altogether. The music is just amaze! I think, in fact I’m SURE our target audience will absolutely love it.
Vinay: The kids would react positively, especially with all of the comedy scenes in the play.
Akshay(evam lab): Metro will be scandalous at the beginning but a role model by the end. (Parents are gonna have a very hard time dealing with their kids post play)
- How does it feel to play monkeys?
Jayanth: Aren’t we all monkeys? So it came naturally to us !! And it was quite easy.
Vikas (evam lab): Initially it was tough. The rehearsals are still funny being monkeys. Experimenting how monkeys are was a joy in itself.
Amit: I am obviously the biggest monkey directing this play.
- Are your kids(if any), nieces and nephews coming to see u in this play? what have you told them/or bribed them with?
Akshay: I have bribed parents with the promise of free tickets.
Saadiya: Nope. No kids. No nieces or nephews. My friends will be coming though and they’re not too different from kids or monkeys, really.
Vinay: My niece has promised to be in the front row at the Bangalore show when I told her there are gonna be monkeys on stage. Coz obviously me performing music for a show didn’t entice her
- The most weirdest of your co-actor/musician.
Saadiya: No one. Everyone is so sweet
Amit: Saadiya… She thinks she is damn funny. She thinks of a joke in her head and laughs for 30-35 mins and then when she stops, we ask her to tell us the joke and and none of us find it funny and there is silence for three seconds, she continues to laugh for the next 20 minutes
Vinay: (without reading the whole question) Hey this question has the word weird in it. Saadiya it must be about you.
Akshay: Saadiya. She has her special Jai Jihad Dance, which we have incorporated in the play. Watch out for that.
Vikas: None other than Saadiya
Jayanth: Ha ha ha. Handsdown Saadiya
Saadiya: Ok am gonna change my answer.
They’re all a bunch of comedy pieces. But hands down the strangest member of this group is our director Amit. His brain wiring is slightly different but in a good way, of course. Sort of. :P And no sweets for anyone anymore!!
- Whats your expectations in putting up a play for kids and how do you think it is different from performing for adults?
Akshay: Kids are epic. Adults are adulterated. Kids are much more present as an audience than adults. So its more exciting to perform for kids. Adults will forget about the play within an hour or so after one fabebook post at the most. But kids!!! #Kidsrock #karadirocks
Amit: Kids… its more pure. Its more honest and pure and the reaction we get from them is also honest and pure. If they don’t like the play, they would start talking and will be distracted and that the actors would know.
Nishanth: This production is a little different from other kids production. There is no talking down to children. We are treating them as adults to a certain extent, you know, so that they can enjoy the play and so can the adults who bring them along.
- Monkey See Monkey Do – In a Single Word?
Saadiya: FUN. 100% unadulterated mental fun.
Jayanth: Monkeys or even better, Bananas
- How was the experience of creating music for this play?
Nishanth: Music has come out very very well. It had a lot of team work. Majority of the creativity was from some of the cast members, who came up with some of the lyrics and the credit for certain grooves to the song goes to the Director Amit, who literally knew how the creativity can be put to use in the right place- in terms of cues, how it will work, where it will work.
Jayanth: It was easy working with Nishanth, since I have already worked with in another play. Vinay- he is using an instrument, the name of which I have not heard before anywhere in my life. Everyone gave inputs- Kalesh with his lyrics, we with our extra fittings like maane, thene ponmaane etc ;).
Saadiya: Music was a pretty a straight forward process. It all started with Kalesh and Akshay being fed copious amounts of bread omelette cheese and lemon tea which resulted in some brilliant song writing. Then came in Nishanth and Vinay, two supremely gifted musicians who took things to another level. Almost everyone, actually everyone expect me is musically gifted here and that truly reflects in the production.