What is The Rogue’s connection to India?
Patty Gallagher is good friends with Chandran Sankaran. In fact, Patty’s husband plays squash with Chandran. Chandran is a businessman from Bangalore who spends part of his time in the San Francisco area (where Patty lives). Chandran saw Patty in Happy Days, which The Rogue produced in 2008. He loved the play and thought people in India would love it, too. So, he and some friends created a production company and arranged to bring our production of Happy Days with Patty Gallagher and Joe McGrath to Bangalore in December 2010. Three performances were held at the Ranga Shankara theatre in Bangalore for near sellout audiences. Chandran (and we) were very happy with the results, and we began scheming about how we could bring another production to Bangalore. In the meantime, Chandran joined the Board of a new theatre company in Bangalore, Jagriti, which aims to “professionalise English Language theatre in India.” It is run by two longtime theatre artists, Jagdish and Arundhati Raga. They were planning their first season and decided they would like to produce 4 of their own shows and bring in 2 others. They brought in a play by a touring company from Great Britain and us! Shipwrecked! will be the last play of their very first season. Jagriti means “awakening” in Sanskrit.
Why does The Rogue travel to Bangalore?
It’s pretty important for artists to expand their awareness and understanding of the world and its people. Traveling to new and exotic places is certainly one way to do this. Seeing new sights and meeting new people from a different culture opens our eyes to new ways of looking at the world. This is the primary reason why it’s good for The Rogue to go to India: our vision and understanding will be refreshed and deepened. Secondly, The Rogue is dedicated to producing great works of literature. We know a lot about Western literature, but very little about literature from Asia or the Indian sub-continent. The last time Joe went to India, he brought back the play Naga Mandala, which we produced in September 2010. Who knows what we’ll bring back this time? We’re hoping to meet the author of Naga Mandala, Girish Karnad, and learn about other Indian authors and playwrights. Third, our first play of next season, Journey to the West, is a 16th century Chinese epic about a monk traveling from China across the mountains to India to bring back sacred texts. As the director for Journey to the West, I want to fill my mind with images and sounds of India that we might use in the production. Finally, Jagriti invited us to come and is paying our way. It was a generous and prestigious offer.
What activities other than the production are planned?
During the second week we’re there, we’ll be presenting four master classes:
- The Poetics of Wonder: An Introduction to Clown
- The Body Electric: Creating a Character through Physicalization
- The Moment Before: Imaginative Preparation for an Entrance
- Do Not Saw the Air Too Much: Clarity in Physical Gesture
It will be interesting to compare our approach to acting and training to what’s offered in India. We will undoubtedly learn more from our workshops than our participants will!
How might Shipwrecked! in Bangalore differ from its Tucson counterpart?
How will Bangalore react to Bruno the dog? Do Indians have the same relationship to pets that Americans do? How will various attitudes toward Colonialism exhibited in the script play in Bangalore? Will Bangalore audiences find the same things amusing as Tucson audiences? What part of our reaction to the play is universal? What part cultural? We are also using a musician/sound effects person from Bangalore to round out the cast – will his sense of sound and rhythm differ from ours? So much to discover . . .
— Cynthia Meier