May 29, 2012
Morning walk with Patty – exploring terra nova. My eyes must be constantly wide as saucers. So many fascinating sights to see – storefronts, temples, sidewalk vendors, dogs and people, people, people (very beautiful people). We wandered down a side street to see a small temple decorated with colorful representations of Hindu gods. I love the Indian celebration of color; especially fascinating juxtaposed against the din and dust of the streets. Just soaking it all in still – but loving the novelty of it all.
One discussion we’ve all had is the tendency among the people with whom we interact (shop owners, food vendors, etc.) to not give definitive answers. I hate to be the ugly American demanding information in very clear, concise answers, but it’s very confusing when someone sort of wags their head and smiles in response to an inquiry. I know this is an initial impression and I’m hoping that we figure out what, and how, is being communicated – but right now is all somewhat confusing.
This morning we watched a wonderful performance at the theatre – short plays written by students up to 11 years old, acted out by adults. It was delightful. The plays were penned by both students from Bangalore and London kids (five plays from each city). The actors were terrific, the plays were funny and smart. The biggest treat was seeing the theatre from the audience perspective. It’s a gorgeous space. We sat in the back row (I think there are eight rows with a total of about 200 seats) and felt very connected to the action onstage. It’s going to be such a delight to perform here.
We rehearsed this afternoon with our percussionist – a brain surgeon by day! A very nice, very smart, very beautiful man (did I mention how beautiful the Indian people are?). We took about three hours to go through the show. He was kind of overwhelmed by the end of it, but I know he’ll be fine once we get a few more run-throughs under our belt (which is good because there are only a few more run-throughs before our first performance). About halfway through rehearsal, jetlag hit hard. I suddenly felt as if my whole body was made of lead. I knew how important this rehearsal was, so I powered through, but came home and immediately hit the bed for a short nap. Waking from a jetlag nap is like swimming to consciousness through peanut butter. About to head to bed again now—a couple of hours later—so that I can get some good rest and feel mentally acute by Friday.
May 30, 2012
Another day of jet lag; jet lag sucks. Hopefully, this is the worst of it and things will feel better from here on out. Because I was tired, it was a little more difficult to embrace the city. The hot, humid weather, the traffic, the constant river of humanity, the mosquitoes all became minor irritants. I say “minor” because, heck, I’m in India! About to perform at the wonderful Jagriti Theatre! Publicity for the show has kicked into high gear and our photos are splashed everywhere – posters around the neighborhood, Time Out magazine, Times of India newspaper. Fingers crossed that this will bring us good audiences. We did a full run-through of the play with lights and sound today. Our new percussionist is terrific. Have I mentioned that he’s a brain surgeon? In some ways, he’s the Bollywood ideal of a leading man – handsome, sophisticated, smart, talented and a heck of a nice guy. And a brain surgeon (really)! If we can’t have Dawn, Matt and Angela onstage with us, Savitr is the next best thing!
Just a quick observation about being one of the few Westerners in the middle of the Indian population. I knew that a part of the learning experience of this trip would be experiencing life as a visible minority. When we go out walking in the mornings, people are always staring (particularly when walking with the beautiful redheaded Patty Gallagher). I wondered what that would be like before I left on this trip, but now that I’ve been there, it doesn’t really bother me. I’m so grateful for the experience – being able to look at the world from a completely new perspective. I anticipate that by the end of three weeks, I will be even less aware of the differences between “us” and “them” – but we’ll see!
May 31, 2012
The first attack of “Delhi Belly!” (I hope that term is not too pejorative; I just wanted to use a nice euphemism.) I shouldn’t call it the “first attack,” I should dub it the “only attack.” It was a pretty uncomfortable morning, but thanks to the wonders of modern pharmaceuticals (over-the-counter, even!), I was able to do a full run-through of the play by 2:30 this afternoon. In a way, it was good to get this experience out of the way. I’ve been very careful about what I eat (though, evidently, not careful enough) because I’ve been terrified about having to do the show while worrying about my digestive system. Knock wood, today should qualm those fears a bit.
The run-through went very well and we’re ready for an audience again. Savitr, our percussionist, is a rock star. He did the whole show today off book. Did I mention that he’s a brain surgeon? I’m very excited to see how this show plays to a totally new audience from a very different culture. It’s ironic that I say “very different culture.” This was the last day of work of one of the Jagriti staff members and they gathered for a “bon voyage” of chai (yum), quiche and cupcakes, to which the Shipwrecked crew was graciously invited. It’s a delightful group of people running the Jagriti company and we all settled down on the patio behind the theatre to relax and talk shop. It’s fascinating to think that we all come from such different backgrounds and yet it felt so familiar and friendly to get to know each other better and compare notes about running a theatre company. They even offered up suggestions for future productions that, I suspect, could very well end up in future Rogue seasons.
P.S. I got a response from British Airways, who apologized for my discomfort on the flight from London to Bangalore and offered me a credit of 50 British Pounds towards a future British Airways flight. (…really?) I fired off a snarky response to tell them that this was wholly inadequate and that I would not be availing myself of their services in the future (I used big words so that I sounded more British). Harumph.
— David Morden