Our arrival was a bit rocky. Our connection at Heathrow was an unending comic nightmare of corridors, escalators, buses, trains, and further security checks. Its comedy, in classical tradition, derived from its happy ending: an upgrade to first class. On a nine-hour flight, this is no small blessing.
We are in India.
Bangalore is a grand tour of the rich and poor. A city whose tech. economy has exploded, and attracts the young and talented, but whose traditional population remains. Hence, we see more familiar western clothing alongside traditional Indian dress (particularly on the women).
The streets, as you may have heard, are a terrifying marvel. Pedestrians, motorcycles, cars, and trucks coexist in a mysterious, instinctive flow. The horn is neither warning nor snarl, but a touch on the shoulder maintaining space for movement. As you can imagine, the streets are loud.
Law is a mystery that I want to crack on this trip. Perhaps our friends at Jagriti will help me with this. We see virtually no police on the street here, yet there is no pressing sense of lawlessness. In fact, all seem to be getting on as best they can, and we have felt no sense of threat. In a world of such poverty, how does this work? Not sure what to make of it. Perhaps we Americans are more prone to a sense of entitlement and class resentment? I don’t know, but I want to find out.
English and Hindi are the common languages here. As there are five or six various mother tongues among the residents of Bangalore, everyone needs a little Hindi to get by, and English for the upwardly mobile. My handler, Vivek, God bless him, speaks a very refined English, mostly British in accent with a musical Indian lilt. His mother tongue, unusual for the area, is from the north, I believe.
Jet lag has been a struggle for this first week, and we’re told that it’s quite common to have a week-long fight with it after flying east. I write this in the middle of the night and into the morning for this very reason. Our run-throughs of the play have been encouraging, but David and I have legs of lead by the end. Patty, world citizen and fitness geek, is bullet proof.
The play! We have procured, as you have read elsewhere here, the services of an able and cheerful percussionist whose day job is neuro-surgery. (!) This is a blessing, since someone so medically accomplished is clearly an able learner, and aside from Louis, he is perhaps the busiest of us. I often miss Dawn’s lyrical music, particularly the theme for Louis’ mother, and the Coral Sea, and Angela’s brass, and Matt’s comic sensibility, but Savitr is acquitting himself famously, and brings a new voice to the mix.
The poor Rogue has only myself to shepherd the lighting through. I did my best to get everything prepared in advance and Clint heroically put together a light plot for this adventure which we forwarded to Bangalore. The folks at Jagriti were very much on the ball. When we walked into the space on Saturday afternoon, Manoj, the electrician, had the plot hung (“rigged”, they call it) and circuited. It only remained for me to oversee the focusing of the lights, and the programming of the cues. I did my best. The theatre is quite wonderful. A hundred and seventy seats that wrap around a semi-circular stage. The rake of the house is quite steep, and as a result, the back row seems quite close. It is perfect for Shipwrecked. As of this writing, we have had a complete, no stops technical rehearsal. With Savitr on percussion and Manoj and Babu (our light board operator for the run) thrown in the deep end. They’ve all performed beautifully. Mistakes, of course, but no more than to be expected on a first tech, and no stoppers. I was particularly impressed with Manoj and Babu, since they were following along in an English script. Their command of the language, Babu in particular, is quite tenuous. But they did quite well. They obviously read quite well.
I managed to talk Jagriti into building for us a moon box, a thunder sheet, and three pairs of stilts. With the exception of the stilts, they should be able to make great use of these, as we at the Rogue seem to be rattling our thunder sheet in every other play, and the moon box has been upstage center in two of our productions so far. They’ve done a fine job with them.
While jet lag dogs me, my idle hours are spent with Richard III. Not a bad chap, really. Just trying to make sure that someone competent is in charge, I think.
But he’s a mess physically. Dr. Bella, the chiropractor, could very well make a few bucks off me next May.
— Joe McGrath