You miss a few important life lessons when you don’t watch a live play unfolding in front of you on a stage.
I am assuming here that you don’t have the time to watch live theatre plays. I am also assuming that you are not much interested in watching stage plays. My third assumption is that you might have acted in plays while in school, but after school, life became your stage. You became engrossed in playing your specific character in all seriousness in life, while the stage play got left behind.
My assumptions about you may be wrong or right on this point. But what matters is just one question: When did you last watch a live stage play having experienced actors?
If you can’t remember it, or you have never watched a live theatre play, then take out some time for it.
The Accomplished Master
If you ask me the above question, then my answer is: I watched a live stage play today, after almost three years in an auditorium in Gomtinagar. I came back after watching a Hindi play called ‘Raaz’ . This play is an adaptation of British playwright Anthony Shaffer’s play written in 1970 ‘Sleuth’. It’s a thriller, with a lot of plot twists.
I went to see this play for the single reason that the play was Produced and Directed by Padma Shree awardee Raj Bisaria. Even the Music and Set Design were done by him. Mr Bisaria was my teacher-cum-professor in MA (Hons) English class in Lucknow University years back. The play was organized for two days, March 1-2, 2016. The play marked 50 years of Mr Raj Bisaria’s TAW (Theatre, Arts and Workshop).
Raj Bisaria is a much respected and well-loved name in the name of Indian theatre. He has donned the hat of an Indian director, producer, actor and educationist at different stages of his illustrious life. After Day two of the play ‘Raaz’ today, when he was called on stage, he thanked the audience with the words: “आप हैं तो हम हैं” (“Aap hain, toh hum hain” — It is because of you that we are here).
The whole team of TAW, including the cast and crew of the play, also felicitated Mr Bisaria and his achievements. Many of his students like me watched him and his disciples on stage. We remembered our teacher who would sit confidently in the classroom and explain the intricacies of English literature and drama.
While doing MA, Mr Bisaria even encouraged me to be a part of theatre, when I expressed my interest in it. But then I remember that I backed out due to some reason. But the art of theatre continued to be a part of my non-routine thoughts. Since then whenever I got a chance and had the time, I always managed to catch some play or the other that was being staged in my city by some theatre group.
I am no expert in the diction, nuances, style or immersive art of stage and theatre. I am just a guy who found theatre interesting and kept watching plays as part of an audience. This hobby was perhaps due to the fact that I took part in three-four school skits in annual functions. Having this very basic foundation in school theatre, I can say that theatre like any art worth pursuing, requires dedication, zeal and commitment to achieve excellence. That Mr Bisaria managed to sustain this kind of commitment for stage and theatre for 50 years is praiseworthy.
‘Raaz’ — The Play & Lessons
The play ‘Raaz’ was done with a lot of finesse and style. Right from stage design, sound production and lighting — the first impression had quality written all over. The play was enacted in Two Acts, with a 15 minute break. There were only two actors in the play — Prafulla Tripathi and Ashish Tiwari. They held the stage powerfully for almost two hours with their clap-worthy solid performance and control of the stage. They played out characters bent by sexual conflict and jealousy between an older and a younger man where the wife of one, is the lover of another. It was a pleasure to watch them perform in this challenging play so confidently, in front of a full house filled with eager theatre patrons of Lucknow.
But then what’s it to you? Why am I giving so much detail and background to you, without coming straight to the point? I know the point is, why watch a good play live on stage.
* Personality Development: Whenever you watch a good stage play you find that the characters have a confident bearing. Even more important, you hear the words spoken by them in the play quite clearly. They may be depicting so many different emotions in their dialogues, but their pronunciation, intonation and loudness is always good. What you understand here is that watching a stage play gives you pointers to personality development. You learn how to use your voice clearly and properly. Everyone may not have the good looks, but everyone has a voice. Looks cannot be made much better than what nature gave you, but voice control can definitely be improved. Body language can also be made better.
* Life truths: Whenever you watch a live play, you will find a particular view and opinion of the writer and director on some important issue. Some character or the other will give you some lesson in character building or some important life truth. Watching live stage plays regularly make you think deeper about life, more than what films can accomplish.
* Human connect: A live stage play tells you that there are others who are like you, who think like you do. They bring to stage, what you are probably thinking in your mind. The characters on stage can connect on a human level with you and give your thinking new direction.
These are just some broad things you learn when characters bring the writer and director’s vision on stage.
Where you are concerned, you are the writer and director of your own life play. The characters you play in life knowingly and unknowingly affect your immediate audience — your parents, your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, relatives, neighbours and friends. The kind of dialogues you use when you are alone with yourself, or when you are in front of others, affect you and them. The manner in which you say your dialogues also matters.
So, choose the daily script of your personal play with care. Put in lot of positive dialogues, with positive body language in your daily performance. Once your play ends, it would be nice to get a standing ovation from the audience that is there in front of you.