As the curtain rises

Lakshmi Menon got to be part of the production crew for Evam’s ‘Idiot for dinner’ and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Theatre has always been a media that awed me. The whole idea of performing live is fascinating and challenging. I have been attending plays for a long time, but being part of a theatre crew was a totally different experience.

I got an opportunity to be a part of the production team for Evam’s “An Idiot for dinner” that was recently staged at Rangashankara on the 12th, 13th and the 14th of June.

A stage adaptation of the Hindi movie, Bheja Fry, which is based on the French play Le dîner de cons. Sanjay and his friends have a tradition of hosting weekly "idiots’ dinner", where guests, must bring along an "idiot" of whom the other invitees can make fun. Sanjay comes across R Golden Gopu and invites him home. He has a back injury the same night and gets stuck with the idiot at home. Hilarious situations follow.

I seized the chance to work with a professional theatre group. The production and backstage crew are like Ninja warriors, unseen and lurking in the dark, in black clothes.

The work for the play started about a month back, with the creation and the design of the sets. We had to use materials that are affordable, easy to handle and convenient to transport. The team worked closely with the director and an elaborate living room set was designed, as required by the script. The room had walls, door, a bar counter and a platform at the back end of the stage at the center, with a window. The entire set was made from plywood, assembled and painted. I also arranged some perishable props for every show, like ice and food. An idiot for dinner

Once the play starts, the actors are dependent on the back stage crew for a good performance (pic courtesy: Evam)

Work started early on the days of the show to create the living room and furnish it. It was challenging to furnish a full room in half a day, without missing out on details like drapes, indoor plants, curios and other things (bought at the most reasonable prices), without compromising on the intended effect. Within a few hours, we had a lovely living room all set for the play.

Setting the lights was next. Lights are designed keeping in mind the availability of equipment in the auditorium and the script of the play. After this was set up, the technical rehearsal started. There was the final tweaking to the well rehearsed play; to suit the auditorium and we are all set for the show. These final moments are most tense, as these changes need to be incorporated in the live show. Once all is set, the audience starts walking in and the feeling is amazing. I had butterflies in my stomach after a long time (in fact first time, after my first job interview). There is a sense of achievement.

Once the play starts, the actors are dependent on the back stage crew for a good performance. Panic in the backstage team can affect the rhythm of the play. The shadow warriors began their action when the lights go off. In a matter of seconds the scene on stage changes and the whole play goes on.

The production and backstage team take the cast through the journey, hand in hand, right from setting the props in the right places, giving cues when necessary and providing the moral support. The team also keeps track of the show’s schedule and ensures the actors’ comfort.

What I enjoyed the most was observing the way each actor transform into the character ,  practicing the mannerisms and behavior of the character.

Theatre is a beautiful media to express yourself, and tell a story so real that you can feel the energy of the character on stage. I loved being part of it and can’t wait to work in another theater production.


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