Monday, August 25, 2014

A Play Within A Play

It was a humid Sunday evening in Tambaram. I quickly got down from the stairs leading to first platform of the railway station. I rejoiced under the fan , fighting with the rivers of sweat tumbling down from my head. Suddenly, I saw passengers getting down from the train and moving towards the third platform. The announcer said that the next train would leave from third platform. So I rushed towards that train. I had to take a train as soon as possible to reach the venue of " The Hindu theatre fest ". Five minutes later we again heard the announcer saying that the train would leave from the first platform. In addition to that , there was a customary lame apology. So, we ran again. We complained and cursed the announcer. But everyone ran because they had no other choice. It appeared as if it was a badly scripted scene of a play 

So, I got down at the Chetpet station and asked an auto driver about the address. He talked as if was he was an old horse in that area. He told me that we had to take a round about turn and then reach the place as some metro construction was going on. I agreed and hired the auto. A few minutes later I was standing in front of a sweet shop called "Shri Mithai" .  I was pissed off. Then I became angry as the auto driver started blaming me for the misunderstanding. I used the choicest of swear words in Kannada to curse him.  He just struck to 'Sri Mutha' and interpreted it as 'Sri Mithai' . Fortunately, that hiccup didn't spoil my evening . I was at the venue in time.  That made me feel irritated. Another bad scene.
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It was a sort gala gathering. Ladies were dressed elegantly. Aunties were dressed extravagantly. And all the uncles were distracted. [ *chuckles * ]. By the way, I looked like a kid who had escaped from a college hostel. 

There was no dearth of beauty or colorful flowers in front of the venue. Nobody seemed to be interested to make use of this uniquely strategic situation. I got into the hall, took a seat and waited for my college senior to enter the hall. She was kind enough to book those tickets herself. I had still not thought about returning the cash. I was introduced to many strangers i.e. her colleagues . I was glad that it was quick and not so tedious.

Till the moment we settled into our seats, I didn't know the name of the play. That was ironical. So , I pulled out my phone and Googled  'The Hindu theatre fest '. The schedule and all the details popped in front of my eyes. Then I Googled the keywords , i.e  ' Noises Off + The Hindu ' .  

"Next up on August 24 is the zany comedy, Noises Off, directed by Atul Kumar for The Company Theatre. Michael Frayn’s play can be said to be the ‘mother of all play-within-a-play comedies’. It is about a misplaced director and a team of mediocre actors trying to put up a sex comedy. Through the rehearsals and various shows in a run, the play and their interpersonal relationships go from bad to worse. Things reach a disastrous stage when the actors start getting injured physically, forget their lines, make wrong entries and exits, and find themselves improvising poorly to save face and probably the final show."



I had been going through a not so perfect evening. A play within a play. This packaging of a concept within itself sounded exciting. There was a lot of sarcasm in the beginning. One could not have made out the story or the humor without knowing something about the screenplay. It made sense to me right from the beginning, thanks to that chunk of info. I had a great time for the next two hours. By the end, I felt like noting down a few observations in my mind and thought of sharing it with people.

I am pretty sure that many conservative Indians are not aware about adult jokes involving candles. But people tried a bit too hard to join those who got it.  It was as if they were laughing so that they wouldn't be left out. It happened quite a few times during the performance. It is usually funny when you see people acting on both sides of the stage. Oh, we all do that shit. Let us confess honestly. But it was even more blatant while watching an adult comedy play .

But the most important thing about the drama was it's resemblance to life itself.  No I am not going to make that cliched Shakespearean reference. 

We all tend to script our lives and rehearse for the same as well. Many times we fuck up during rehearsals. Finally most of us end up improvising during the actual performance. The train platform, the auto that went off the expected route; wrong exits and entries; and then, the play. It all made sense to me as I stared at the ceiling. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where Is My Heart These Days ?

It's turned into a slippery soap,
A drifting bubble in the air

Haven't given up any hope
I have still retained my flair

Still holding on to that rope
I'm not going anywhere

I'm rolling it down the slope
Catch it in case you care

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Fifth Symphony

Radiant beams shoot through this region's deep night, and we become aware of gigantic shadows which, rocking back and forth, close in on us and destroy everything within us except the pain of endless longing—a longing in which every pleasure that rose up in jubilant tones sinks and succumbs, and only through this pain, which, while consuming but not destroying love, hope, and joy, tries to burst our breasts with full-voiced harmonies of all the passions, we live on and are captivated beholders of the spirits

E.T.A. Hoffman, German Music Critic

It was a just another Monday morning. I took a seat in the bus and plugged in my earphones. I scrolled down to find a track to start the day. My thumbs stopped at Beethoven’s fifth symphony. I was perhaps half sleepy. But the music woke me up from the slumber. By the end of the piece I felt something similar to what Hoffman has said in the quote above. I played it once more and felt different. I formed my own interpretation of the piece. Then, I felt that I should sit down and write a post about the same thought.

But one is not allowed to blurt out random stuff while talking about bigwigs like Beethoven. So I sat down and read some tedious articles talking about the first, second, third and fourth movements of the piece. Complex terms like Allegro Con Brio, Andante Con Moto, Scherzo Allegro and Allegro flashed in front of my eyes. I have always believed that music is beyond technicalities. So , I happily ignored that stuff. 

However, I learned about the association of victory or the ‘V’ symbol with the fifth symphony during the second world war. The Morse code for V (dit-dit-dit-dah) is apparently similar to the opening rhythm of fifth symphony. It was also amusing to know that the sixth and the fifth symphony premiered in the same performance. The sixth symphony was performed before the fifth!



My Interpretation

I feel that the course of Beethoven's fifth symphony is pretty much like life itself. It starts off with a bang. The noise, violence, wails pretty much resembles the initial rumblings in the symphony. It moves slowly and grows steadily, exploring the contours of music like a child exploring the world. It becomes more interesting and energetic in the next two minutes. That chunk of the piece is very similar to youthful energy of a young man. Somehow the musician faces a dilemma, like a mathematician struck in the middle of a tricky problem. At the end of the first half, there is a bit of struggle followed by a slump, somewhat resembling a mid-life crisis. The composer creates a bit of suspense, challenging the listener to guess the future course of the piece. And then it bounces back, like a triumphant warrior asserting his place on the battlefield. As it moves towards the end it becomes more contemplative and nostalgic. It waltzes with past memories, preferably the good ones (it might even have a few sad ones on the boundaries). It celebrates life and finally concludes gracefully with a sense of completion. 

Music can carry a story or a narrative within itself. Sometimes you can weave a narrative around a piece of music. You can build your own narrative around the fifth symphony. I think now would be a great time to sit back and enjoy this masterpiece again.