Should I send my toddler to “After-school activities”??

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John Pradeep, the Dean of Happy Cow, apart from conducting theatre workshops, does biking, balloon-crafting, clowning etc. Basically he manages to stay out of home! When at home, he gets life lessons from his daughter also!

 

 

 


My daughter (3.5 years old) likes running, jumping, diving and climbing on things at home. Me, being the proud parent wanted to find her strengths. I had a brief talk with a kid’s gym centre coordinator and I told him that I would bring her to one class to see if she is interested. She was watching for some five minutes, then the trainer called and asked her if she can do a cartwheel to which she didn’t even reply, but did 5 cartwheels back to back. The trainer was mighty impressed, gave special attention to her. She was excited to go to the class every day. After an hour of workout, she would be very tired, but in-spite of that would ask if she can stay back and do a little more. I was excited that I have found what her talent is and was looking forward to seeing her being a gymnast on big stages.

Things were going well until the district level competition was announced and the trainer put special efforts to get her to win. She did everything he asked her to do except the back flip. She would try to do it every day, but would do only if the trainer gives a hand. Two weeks away from the competition, the trainer took a stick, stood in front of her and asked her to do a back flip. She did it the next minute. I jumped up in joy but she started crying. The next class, she started grumbling while we were getting ready for gym, started crying while going in the bike and was on the peak of her crying as we neared the Gym. All these while, I have been talking to her about how awesome she is, how we are prepping up for the competition and why she going to the class was important, but in vain. I have done pushing her beyond limits at some instances before and succeeded. The parenting instincts in me told that this was a sure no. I stopped my bike on the road and asked her if she surely didn’t want to go. And she gave me a sure no. I just stood there on the road for 2 minutes just to allow all my “Father of a Gymnast” dreams to shatter, fall down, break into pieces and washed away in tears (Yes I cried). That was my first experience of disappointment as a father. We returned home and she was as usual doing all the activities at home on the bed. I as of now know she just hates going to that Gym, but loves doing Gymnastics. I found another Gym, spoke to the trainer about the past experience and he completely understood. But when I asked her about going to a new Gym, she asked me “What if I again do mistakes?” I just left it there and hoping one day she will ask me to put her in some Gym when she understands how a competition works. She still does all those activities at home.

Things I understood from this experience.

  1. It is perfectly fine to send toddlers to after school activities. But pull them out immediately if you find that they don’t like to go to the class.
  2. Figure out whether they don’t like the trainer or the centre or the art form or the sport itself.
  3. Put them into as many experiences as possible. Let them get a taste of all the art forms and sports. So when they grow up, they will be able to choose whatever they are interested in.

Trust your parenting instincts. But if you ask me, competition and awarding one single prize for a toddler age group is a strict no.

John Pradeep

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Directorial Tale!

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Hari Ramakrishnan, a strict-officer while directing and rehearsals, but the most easily approachable person in the theatre fraternity, has been a part of evam’s First Rush for the last three graduation batches. He is talking about how his experience was with First Rush :)

There are so many things that you may want to try out in your life and one such thing is acting for so many and it is at this point you try to figure out a “go-to” place to fulfil your long pending dream and one such place is FIRST RUSH, an amazing Initiative founded by EVAM.

Many artists who are a part of theatre productions today owe it to the company which has thrived in bringing up creative content, innovative productions and talented actors and setting up standards in the field of art and theatre and trying to break its own records continuously.

I have directed three batches so far and it is one tremendous give and take learning process each day when we meet for rehearsals. As a Director I underwent the experience of understanding the saying “Not all fingers on your hand are the same”. Getting the required output from a particular artist demanded me to adapt new methods as they were different from each other which further gave me an opportunity to explore and expand my abilities.

But what is really beautiful is that, no matter what differences the artists have they slowly start to forge a bond which projects them as a single functioning unit at the end of the 30 day workshop which is one of the best things a director can receive from his team apart from a standing ovation from the audience for the performance.

The first thing I always tell any batch is, “The audience do not pay to watch a amateur performance.” Hence one of the major goals is moulding the artists to a standard of a professional actor or give them the necessary tools to become one over a period of time.

Batch 29
My first batch is always like my first child. They named themselves “ACT-A- AWAYS” and they came up with a performance called “6 Course Meals”. Most of them were still in college , a pretty bunch with a lot of enthusiasm jumping around like crazy balls, making fun, at the same time putting their effort in a playful way contributing to the better output of the play as how we planned it . Putting it in line “You want energy?? We have tons of it”

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Batch 32
This gets serious. This batch consisted of mostly working professionals, business men and had a matured way of handling things from the way the moment it started. Once they opened up, I understood that they were not more than 16 years old at heart and mind ;) They chose the name “Starting from Scratch” and their performance was called “5 Finger Fries”. Foodies I say! When it came to the execution of instructions they were on the top of their game. It was more like “work while work and play while play” but both at the extreme ends. There were times we were chased out of restaurants for being the notorious guests… in simple words “KIDS IN ADULT’S CLOTHES”.

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Batch 33 (Current Batch)
Teasing each other is in their daily agenda and they aptly call themselves “The Stage Roaches” and their performance which is coming up on October 7th is named as “5 Shades of Something”. It’s about 2 weeks I have been with them and from what I have seen they come up with small surprises every now and then when it comes to displaying their acting skills. They have their own unique skill set on stage and they know how to use it at the right time and right quantity with measured quality. Looking forward for more surprises from them :) Catch them performing next month on the 7th :) For tickets : https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/five-shades-of-something/ET00061653

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Hari Ramakrishnan

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Because the best things happen unexpectedly!

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An IT employee by profession, Sanjana Annu was a part of The Hindu Theatre Festival 2017 Live evam team. In this blog she is talking about her experience at the three day festival.

 

 


Who said surprises come in small packages only. For me, it was a big fat event starting from 24th Aug to 26th August. Little did I know, how much was in store for me during those three days of my life when I first decided to be a part of this. It is rightly said that “From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame”.

It all started when a friend of mine asked if I was interested to be a part of this. My response was quite impulsive. I did not even give a second thought about it considering all the stuff he had been telling about this fest as he was part of this from a very long time. I was more than excited. But as they said don’t settle for the spark but wait for the wild fire, I decided to keep calm because, it’s going to be LEGEND wait for it DARY!

There was no looking back after that. We had been called a day before the event starts to break the ice and get some insights about how the whole event is going to be. That evening was the perfect trailer for the entire event. Diversity was bolded and also italicized because each one present there had a creative uniqueness in them (which I rarely get to see) and you know what was the one common thing in all of them? Yes, the DURACELL battery wala energy. The moment you look at a person, you feel the same energy within you. Oh! Wait! Isnt this exactly what my Physics Professor explained ? Energy is always around you, it just transforms into different forms. On a second thought, I now started liking physics. My professor would be happy hearing it from me.

On the first day, we were called quite early to the venue as there were lot of work that had to be done and do our best that we can and finish everything on time. As soon as I reached the venue, I went around the entire building, entering into different doors, finding new pathways, peeping through all the windows just as I usually do at a new place to satisfy my curiosity. It makes me more connected to the place. As I entered the back stage, I was gaping at all the works that was done on the stage, probably it was the first time I was doing back stage work for a big act after my school days. Right from cleaning the stage, fixing the back drop, arranging the props, setting the mikes, getting the green room works done and many more of this. Trust me, one cannot  differentiate who was actually leading the event and who were the volunteers, because each and everyone was working with total commitment.

And the best part, nobody would have been more happier than my mom when she got to know that I had lifted the water cans, moved out some heavy wood stuff and surprisingly did some stitching too for the props. All thanks to the event, now my mom wants me to attend such events regularly and do these activities at home too so that I would get over my laziness.

And now when all the work got completed, we all gathered and had a briefing by our Event Head about the roles and responsibilities during the show time. After the briefing, we had an evam huddle, where each one of us would hold each others hands, close our eyes and think about the best memories in our lives which would give us the positive energy to do our best. For me, it is synonymous to RED BULL. Yes,this doesn’t give you wings, but gives you the energy that can make you fly too.

After the huddle, we had a shout out to EVAM followed by a group picture and then we were all back to our positions waiting for the people to arrive. Those 2 hours of showtime was a different experience. I got to meet a lot of people, some haughty women as well (which is an experience of its own) and also helping them out with their seats, giving them a brief about the play and also getting an opportunity to talk about the work we were doing and strangely I was also appreciated for the smile I had during the entire show. I was happy because at least somebody did not consider me a mad man (which happens always) for smiling all the time.

There were many such wow moments during the entire event which would be very close to my heart. An old lady gave me more insights about theatre and also blessed me just for getting her a chair to sit. The old watchman told many strange stories about the venue and also smiled at me every time I crossed him. I guess even my manager at work wouldn’t have been so happy to see me everyday. Last but not the least the Mallu power. Not one or two but we had five Mallus (malayalis) which was an added reason for my excitement.

I cannot end this without describing the Plays that we saw. “Black with equal” was like a complete buffet meal, it had it all. “Barf” was one of its kind with an emotional touch. This was something to which I got more connected to, especially for the message that it gave on belief over powering the truth. “Khwaab sa” gave me a trance feeling with their mind numbing performance. I was awestruck with the perfection aimed and the precision with which each and every act was carried out in all the plays. Probably my words wouldn’t do justice to the feeling that it gave.

On the whole, I can say it was nothing short of a roller coaster ride in the land of dreams. It wouldn’t have been possible without each and every person in the team. Starting from Nihar to introducing me to this, Aditya for making me a part of this and Vasanth, Thoorika and Pavithra for being the best energy filled leads and the entire team for giving me such a memorable experience.

You all are an extended family now!

Now I know why they call it a Fest or rather a Festival, something which we look forward to every year, to meet, have fun and create a lot more memories. Looking forward for more such meets and definitely the 2018 fest!

Signing off, all I can say is embrace the unknown and you will see life surprising you everyday!

Sanjana Annu

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The Backstage Back Story

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Software Engineer by profession & Co founder of Playtonik Productions from Bengaluru, Deeban has been heading the Production Portfolio for The Hindu Theatre Festival for past 2 years now! Whenever he is not haggling with vendors for reducing transportation costs for the sets transfer, Deeban annoys his team with his vast knowledge of Bollywood songs and equally cheesy dialogues!

 

 


The Hindu Theatre Festival comes around once every year in August. And it has been a sensory treat for me to be so close to doing something that I am passionate about for a few of weeks in a year. The rush, the crowd, the mistakes, the anticipation, the thrill of energies that are exchanged by performers and the crew and the exhaustion that is a part of every festival is something that has made me grow and learn so much. Over the last few years working on the festival has given me the opportunity to witness some of the best plays touring the country, unfold on stage, and participate in their entire setup process.

This year was slightly different from all the other times I have handled Production for the festival. I was asked to coordinate and head all the production activities in multiple cities (Bangalore & Hyderabad). It was challenging on a different level. But something that my insides did not want to back down from.

What does this even mean?

It means that I am on multiple calls (literally, hundreds 😊) with the troupe’s production managers, and people who were in charge of the production activities in different cities and making sure that everything was sticking to the schedule.

Tasks primarily include:

  1. Getting entire or part of the sets that are constructed locally.
  2. Sourcing the furniture and props required for the plays.
  3. Coordinating with different vendors for the above and any other cool or not so cool tech requirements like Snow Machines, Smoke and Haze Machines.
  4. And during show days, helping the troupes with stage setup, packing-up and backstage support.

We had three plays this year for Bangalore and Hyderabad:

  1. Barff by AGP.
  2. Khwaab Sa by The Company Theatre and
  3. Black with Equal by Masque.

This was the most exhaustive and the most interesting round of THTF production for me and possibly for others as well. In the previous editions I had seen that the theatre companies would have chosen to travel with their sets or be very minimalistic in their format, but this time my team’s involvement started 2-3 weeks before the actual show day as the collective production requirements of the groups were very elaborate and we wanted to get everything arranged and ready for seamless show days. Also, this was the first time for me when all the plays did overnight setup.

Barff  a thriller set in the picturesque Kashmir, was the play with the most elaborate setup. They had huge sets, snow machines, smoke and haze machines and I was initially nervous as the sets got constructed locally in Bangalore and there were too many elements, but it was a relief as everything just worked out as per the director’s and the team’s requirements. And what a fabulous set it turned out to be, which worked in complimenting a power packed performance by the actors.

And it, of course, not surprisingly, got the standing ovation from the audience.

Barff sets in the making and after

Khwaab Sa from The Company Theatre, was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and was performed as a Contemporary Dance and Musical comedy. Though very minimal on set design and set items on stage, (like with an infinity white cyclorama and a drum set right at upstage centre), but with the last minute requirements and some reworks due to wrong specs, my team and me were nimble footed and on our toes till the last minute before the actors went on stage.

The final play was Black with Equal by Masque a satirical black comedy, was a laughter riot. From production requirements perspective they just needed some furniture which was arranged. But every play comes with its own sets of surprises. They had a very interesting cyclorama (transparent plastic fiber 4ft x 4ft panels spanning across the whole stage) and it took us the maximum amount of time due to some setbacks in installation. But it was fun collaborating with the Black with Equal team in putting these panels together and getting the cyclorama up and leveled *Sigh of relief* at 6:00 am in the morning.

The next day or rather the same day Black with Equal included rehearsals for backstage team due to sharp set changes between scenes and intermission including moving a dead body off stage :-)

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With all this action and laughs Black with Equal surely ended the festival with a high for the audience and for us.

Fervent gratitude is required at this stage as none of this would have been accomplished without my fantabulous Production team in both the cities, teaming up, staying as late as 6:00 am in the morning for setup to reaching the venue early in the mornings and taking care of the production requirements during the day till showtime to packup of the sets which have to be done in the night after the show was over and the audience have left. Whew. That was a long list in itself. A huge thank you to evam for asking me to be a part of this amazing experience.

I guess all of us took the message that goes out during evam’s briefing huddle – “We should treat the Hindu Theatre festival as a wedding in the family and the performers as our guests,” to our hearts and no matter what… Atithi Devo Bhava.  😊

-Deeban Chakravarthy

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My Experience with The Hindu Theatre Festival – Hyderabad!

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Aditya GV started working with our Live team from the year 2011 and this is his 7th year with The Hindu Theatre Festival 2017. He was the Hyderabad City Head for the festival this year. Here he is in this blog talking about his experience with the festival.

 


 

We have many platforms to showcase our talent – it may be dance, music or singing but on the other hand very less platforms when it comes to Acting or Theatre work! There are no proper subject oriented or skill developing theatre companies around who are working on the motive to present and make a person better at acting. Because everyone is looking at it as a money-making model. Yes! And it’s only because of the perception that our people have. Everyone considers acting as one form that happens only on big screen but not on the stage where people like SRK and Nawaz came from. The only place where they want to be is inside the shoes of the Hero who kicks some ass, romances and drag races but not into the effort of production house. Nobody really understands it.

It all started 6 years ago when I was done with my Graduation and getting my prep done for CAT. That was the time when my immense interest in plays, acting and art form got a sudden spark due to the ample time I had in my hand. There were 2 things that I was always into big time because of my interest:

  1. Movies and Acting(Watch only)
  2. Dancing

Flipping through the Metro plus addition of The Hindu, I found a tiny piece of advertisement where they were looking for a few volunteers to work on their Theatre Festival that is happening across 5 major cities. Until then, I didn’t have a slight idea of how big this festival is and didn’t know that actually people attend this on a great scale. The super excited self in me didn’t even wait for a minute after reading it. Quickly firing up my laptop I emailed the team about my interest and other details that they found interesting and looped me in to be a part of the 2011 Metro Plus Theatre Festival team.

From being a volunteer in the Hospitality portfolio to becoming the City Head in Hyderabad for the The Hindu Theatre Festival 2017 (yeah, it became bigger) my journey was fantabulous. I did every kind of work right from Production, Hospitality, Ticketing and In-venue which gave me a thorough knowledge of how the festival runs and also many learnings which gave me an entry to a domain called Arts Management which not really everyone has a chance to explore so often. Great people,fabulous team, the Hhngouts which you get to do with the artists and of course the plays and the experience always become better every year. It’s a very short time but it gives you the boost and zeal to look/do something better going forward.

The 13th edition of the festival was done like 3 days back and it was a bomb. This year was tough and I took up the challenge equally along with my team. We had some huge production sets that were a visual treat to the audience and at the end when everyone gives you a standing ovation, talks about how well the play turned out to be… the kind of boost you get cannot be matched to anything. I got to work with and meet prominent theatre groups again and my favourite play was Barff which was directed by Saurabh Shukla. Every year, every fest is a new challenge and experience. I come back with so many learnings and experiences which won’t be taught anywhere else. Looking forward to 2018.

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Aditya GV

 

 

 

 

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Evam Stand-Up Tamasha and Me – 8 months and 5 days…

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Sowpernika, a 24 year old chubster, loves to cook and bake and claims she cannot spell “Chiaroscuro” backwards and has tried it 128482 times! In this blog, she talks about the Open mics and the pub show she handles!

 

 

 

Scene 1:

Location: Ashvita Bistro, Alwarpet, Chennai

Day and Time: Thursdays, 7:30 PM

Cast: Café staff, funny local comics, not-so-funny local comics, 20-30 crowd members who will be a mixture of old grandparents of participants, grumpy friends, over enthu friends, a person who pretends he knows everything about the comedy fraternity and general opinionated folks.

Scene description: From a star comic bombing, to a café staff donning the comic hat, to an angry housewife venting, to a local boy killing, what not, this place has seen it all.

If you have still have not got it, I’m talking about Mic Testing, our open mic stand-up night! It’s been more than a year at Ashvita and this property has been a beautiful platform for anyone who has ever wanted to try stand-up.

And the happiness behind producing this? Is to witness the growth of a comic! In some cheap way, it makes you feel you feel content, a sense of belonging, like you were a part of bigger something.

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 Scene 2:

Locations: Vapour, Bengaluru and Bay 146, Chennai

Day and Time: Sundays, 1 PM and 7:30 PM

Scene description: These 2 pub spaces have witnessed some brilliant stand-up specials in the past one year and have been one of our major strengths. Both these rooms are a favourite among the artists!

With all our new properties like New Material Nights, Comedy Killadees doing so well in Chennai, Bengaluru has been a lovely home to all the solo specials!

And if not for our A team, Raghav and Syama (Chennai) and Hari and Arshadh (Bengaluru), these properties would not be the same!

(Cheap plug-in alert!) So are you in Chennai or Bengaluru and thinking of ways to spend your Sunday? Come be at one of our shows, drink, eat, laugh and have a killer Sunday!WhatsApp Image 2017-08-16 at 2.56.43 PM

 

Sowpernika Ananthanarayanan

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First Rush – Alumni Talks!!

Evam’s next batch of First Rush is happening very soon at Chennai. Let’s see what our alumni from First Rush club has to say!

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Priyanka Shankaran, 32nd Batch Of First Rush, June ’17

Do you remember that time as an innocent little kid who dreams big when asked “Beta, what do you want to be when you grow up”? That excited child who just gave multiple answers: Astronaut, Doctor, Teacher, Writer, ACTOR, Singer… Actor. I remember thinking that I would like to be an actor at some point as a child after watching a really nice movie!

Somewhere along the way, I grew up and realised that I am a quiet and a shy introvert. Introverts can’t be actors! Obviously! And that dream was buried deep and long forgotten. But the love for theatre and cinema could not disappear in the same way in my mind.

So when I chanced upon the workshop poster for First Rush, an amateur acting workshop which culminates into staging an actual show after a month of rehearsal, I couldn’t hold myself back. What is the worst thing that can happen? So, I took the leap of faith and registered myself.

The 1 month of training and rehearsals are easily some of my most memorable experiences to cherish. The bonds and friendships made there are indeed special. It was not all easy to go beyond the comfort zone, break the perceptions of my own limitations. For someone who might not even be audible to the person sitting next to me, I wondered how I could be heard on a stage to a packed audience! But there is some magic in theatre.

The show day was an intoxicating experience. It was the first time to be on a stage for most of us and the excitement was contagious. It was dreamy and surreal to play the characters and go into this new world and tell a story to the audience and make them laugh. Somehow everything fell in place and I could finally fulfil the dream of my 5 year old self!

This has boosted my self confidence in ways I cannot even begin to explain. At the same time, it’s a humbling experience to watch more experienced actors and realise that there is still a long way to learn and improve myself. But the “First Rush’ experience just gave a kick start into new possibilities and hobbies. It was also a chance to open new gateways and loads of opportunities that might have been impossible before. If you are interested in being on stage, and even a part of you longs for it, this is the place to be!

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Sai Charan Kamal, 31st Batch of First Rush, Sep’16

Right from my childhood I have a passion towards acting. I was a part of various plays in Telugu and in English. This passion got developed from school, to college till I completed my MBA. Even though I was acting for a while I did not undergo any formal Theatre Training or any acting workshop. Once I came to Chennai, I was very eager to join any well known theatre workshop that will train me in Theatre dynamics. I always wanted to know how theatre works rather than limiting myself to acting. I came to know about evam’s First Rush workshop through my office colleague. I immediately rushed to evam office from my office that day to enquire about the course. I understood that it fits exactly what I need and registered immediately for the workshop.

15 hour workshop:
The two day (15 hour) workshop is very interactive and is a fun filled learning experience about theatre. The course covers all the aspects of theatre like writing, direction, acting, lights, back stage work etc. The facilitator made us practice the voice exercises which is really useful for any actor to deliver dialogues with better clarity n voice modulation. The favourite part of the workshop comes in the second day where the participants were divided into teams and they were given an English poem. All the teams should understand the poem, then build a unique story on the theme and should enact it with proper dialogue and hand made props. This will be over-looked by the evam jury and appropriate feedback will be provided.

 30 day rehearsal:
This rehearsal mainly helped our team to know each other very well and resulted in a strong team bonding. There were two professional directors, who really understood our strengths, capabilities and cast us accordingly for 6 different plays. The valuable inputs from the directors made us better day by day. The rehearsals became a great platform of learnings, hardwork and fun. Those 30 days passed like 30 seconds.

Show day:
As many of us were acting for the first time, there was a lot of stage fear. Just before the show the directors motivated us to let go of the monkeys on our backs and give our best. Even the back stage activities were done by us. The thunderous applause of the audience at the end of the show still echoes in my ears. Receiving the certificate from Evam is like adding the first colourful feather in my acting cap.

To summarise, First Rush is a great platform to get to know all the aspects of theatre and also to improve ourselves in acting, script writing, direction etc. Surely you will be a better individual after the graduation. The icing on the cake is performing on the stage in front of a huge audience on the day of graduation. Its a learning filled with lot of fun. Thank you evam for all the sweet and lovely memories. You just taught me that acting is a way of life❤

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Shruti Parasuram, 32nd Batch Of First Rush, Sep ’16

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Well, ever since I joined FR I have endless answers to that question.

But before joining the course, I went on a mind rampage. Why do I need to act? How will I convince my parents? What if I am bad at this? I don’t want to be an actor; I have no plans for this Jing bang. Theatre is for “those people”. Yeah right! Like this workshop would make a difference.

Yes! This workshop did make a difference. A difference that I would like to see in myself. I was more confidant, I presented myself better and I had better perspective towards art.

After the workshop, my idea of theatre and acting totally changed. I started to appreciate the multi-dimensional aspects of theatre. Acting is just a part of it. I would not say I am a “Good” actor after the workshop, but I can definitely say I am a better person. One interesting thing I discovered was that – Acting need not only be on stage or in front of the camera. I could be with whoever I wanted and whenever I wanted. It opened up a lot of personalities for me. We act in our day to day lives, we just don’t acknowledge it. Any emotion on stage is derived from an emotion you have felt before. I am glad that I found a method to control my emotions and a way to channelise my energy.

This workshop is not at all a one stop shop for all your acting needs, but it gives an overview of theatre. Moreover, this workshop helped me to visualise better as a writer. I can now plot scenes while I write a script, I know exactly where I want my characters to move. I can completely play the whole script in my mind which actually inspires the director in me.

Hari and Rathy are two ends of a pole and made this process seamless. Rathy dealt with dark subjects which would put you on spot and the processes of getting used to uncomfortable topics will awaken you. Hari on the other hand was a burst of energy and would make you think that you a better actor than you really are. The whole one-month process from script reading to staging your play is fun, once you figure out running between home-office and rehearsals.

Anyone out there having the slightest of inclination towards acting or theatre, just take a blind step of faith in yourself and be surprised!!

The next batch of First Rush is happening on August 19th and 20th at Chennai!! Here’s the registration link : http://bit.ly/FirstRushAug :)

 

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