June 1, 2012
Opening Night! A very nervous day in anticipation of our first performance. Still, managed to get a long walk into a nearby neighborhood and soaked up some more local color. I’m still fascinated by the variety of things to see and experience – cows in the road, roadside temples, tropical plants, open drainage ditches, monkeys running wild, and people, people, people (such beautiful people).
Our show tonight went well, though I think we were all fairly nervous, as if we were doing it for the first time again, not the fourteenth time. I was apprehensive about how the Bangalore audience would respond … or not respond. It was a small house (about 75) and they were a good crowd—reserved but vocal in their feedback. An interesting twist with this play is that, having run through this story countless times (including rehearsals), it suddenly seems quite new again. I think it is the fact that there is an audience watching now that doesn’t have the same cultural references as our hometown crowd. It’s been really exciting to start finding new things in this delightful story and new ways to delight each other. Also, having a new cast member has injected some very fresh energy into the show. The response from audience members after the show was quite enthusiastic. We have our fingers crossed for larger audiences as we progress through the run.
June 2, 2012
Another day of moving through molasses. I think some of this may be remnants of jet lag; much of it is adjusting to the heat and the lack of air conditioning. We have only ceiling fans in our apartment, so we live in a perpetual state of mild discomfort in the 90 degree heat. It’s not Tucson hot here, thank heavens, but it’s warm enough to always be conscious of the heat (and humidity). It makes me realize how very, very spoiled we are back home to constantly have cool air blowing on us, whether at home, work, play or while driving in between all points.
Today Patty and I had a wonderful lunch at one of the upscale hotels. It was a delicious, spicy meal and afterwards she headed up to the spa for a manicure and I wandered back to the apartment. Along the way, I came upon one of my most wished-for sights on this trip – a cricket match. I find this game fascinating and understand just enough of it to more or less follow the action. I still don’t quite get the scoring, but since this was a neighborhood game played on an empty lot, it didn’t really matter. It was fun to watch for a while (including the occasional stares from the other men who were watching). I had hoped to see a professional match while we were in town, but apparently the season just ended so this will have to do!
Performance number two tonight – and a wonderful one it was, too. The audience was very responsive, led by a delightful little girl in the front row (she especially loved Bruno). After my lethargic day, I was determined to get my energy up and really sell the show, Louis-style. And what do you know – it worked! This show seems to fly by now. Having a whole new audience with whom to share it and taking the extra care to make sure that they are getting the cultural references and understanding our diction seems to add some extra oomph to what we are doing. We have had some really astounding comments afterwards, as well, such as, “I’ve never seen anything like this” and “This was amazing.” That’s really gratifying to know that it is having a good impact and that we’re serving Jagriti by keeping their audience entertained.
June 3, 2012
The two-show day (marathon) is done! We’re all wiped out by the amount of energy expended today, but heck, who cares? We’re in India! Actually, it’s continually exciting to hear the response from audiences and receive their gracious comments from them afterwards. Our first show was really good – a vocal audience that gave great feedback during the show. We were all pretty nervous about the second show – there was really only about an hour to rest between shows (curtain times were 3:00 and 6:30). We cranked up the energy for show #2 and were ready to knock ‘em dead and it turned out to be a very quiet audience. Not that they didn’t enjoy the show; they were just very sedate and weren’t giving back much energy to us. It was a bit of a chore to keep them on the hook throughout, but we did it. I have to say that I feel a wee bit of pride, knowing that I was able to give back-to-back performances of this very demanding show. I am, however, very glad that I only have to do that two more times during the run of this show.
A day of tomorrow and we’re all looking forward to seeing more of this city. I’m eager to learn about some different aspects of Bangalore outside of the suburb of Whitefield. I imagine we’ll get some shopping done, as well….
June 4, 2012
A new view of Bangalore today. It was exciting to see what lies beyond our immediate neighborhood. In some ways, it is more of the same; in some ways the city changes character pretty considerably (sometimes more chaotic; sometimes quite elegant). Our first destination was what is known as Commercial Street—a place where we were told that there was good shopping. I imagined it to be either an upscale row of shops or a string of street vendors and stalls. Our goal was to find a fabric store that had been recommended to Cindy so that she could get an Indian style sari or kurti; from there we would see what else might be had, souvenir-wise. Our driver dropped us at the corner of Commercial Street and it turned out to be somewhat the same as other streets in the city—shops, food stands, the occasional small temple, traffic, animals, etc. Patty and I walked the length of the street to see if we could figure out where the sari shop was, encountering cows in the street, the usual flow of humans and such. We headed back to Joe and Cindy and the four of us backtracked to our starting point. We eventually located the shop that had been recommended—it was upstairs and down a short hallway. When we entered, it was like a tropical rainforest of color: dark wood floors with several tables lining either side of the shop where shoppers are shown a variety of fabrics and saris in a rainbow of every color imaginable (including silver and gold). I was feeling a little like a fish out of water, but wanted to explore and see what there was to see. As we became accustomed to the bustle of the place, I really became dazzled by what was being sold: intensely beautiful fabrics—some for saris, some for scarves, some for kurtis. Sometimes customers sat at the aforementioned tables, sometimes they sat on big square cushions, about eight feet square (like huge futons), as salespeople tossed out bolt after bolt of dazzling cloth for them to see. Cindy found some incredible fabrics, some of which will no doubt show up in future Rogue productions.
After our fabric adventure, we had lunch at a restaurant recommended to us by one of the co-directors of the theatre. It was another wonderful Indian meal. As my sister once said, “One of the best things about India is that they eat Indian food all the time!” After a leisurely lunch, I wanted to make one more stop at the state-run handicrafts shop. We had a slight miscommunication with our driver, however, and had to wait in front of the restaurant for about twenty minutes as a sea of traffic flowed by.
A quick word about Bangalore traffic. To say that it is “every man for himself” is an understatement and a mis-characterization. There are lines in the road to indicate traffic lanes, but they are only suggestions, at best. Drivers in this city maneuver in and around each other in a constant flow, through trucks, cars, motorcycles, scooters, mini-taxis (sort of a scooter with a back seat) and bicycles … not to mention pedestrians. An empty space in traffic is an invitation for all vehicles to rush to fill it in and what should be a terrifying series of near misses is actually an astonishing dance of drivers working their way in and out of each other’s way. Of course, the horn is the symphony that accompanies this dance—a constant cacophony of warnings to other drivers, pedestrians and anyone who might possibly be crossing the path of each vehicle’s forward progress. You sometimes even see a vehicle driving against the flow of traffic as it shortcuts from ‘point A’ to ‘point B.’ In the heart of the city, vehicles stack up bumper to bumper, four or five wide with only inches between them. It was quite a show to watch as we waited for our ride.
The handicraft shop proved to be a disappointment. I was hoping for a place to buy local work done by Indian artisans, but it was almost completely mass-produced items, reminiscent of a Pier One Imports. We quickly left and returned to our apartment. We had a wonderful evening of conversation and fresh mango around the dining table, as an orange full moon rose through the clouds and heat-lightning flashed above. We had our fingers crossed for some rain, but instead, the clouds cleared and the moon became a spectacular saucer of light climbing through the sky. Ironically, Joe said that it looked like the “moon box” we use in Shipwrecked—and, indeed, it did.
June 5, 2012
A relatively uneventful day. I discovered the treadmill in the exercise room of the apartment building (woo hoo!) and began my Bangalore fitness regime in earnest. I’ve been walking every day, but the humidity of the day and the hot weather make me feel so lethargic, that the extra burst of energy expended helps to make me feel a little more alert.
We met with the cultural affairs specialist from the American consulate in Chennai. She and a colleague had come to tour Jagriti theatre and meet with the directors, Arundhati and Jagdish. We Rogues joined them for a discussion of theatre and international exchange and we sang the praises of Jagriti (very sincerely) and their great work as ambassadors for English-language theatre. We all bemoaned budget cuts and a reduced ability to bring American theatre to India, but I am hoping that we helped reinforce the value of it—for both Indian audiences and American arts organizations.
In the afternoon, I forced myself out for a walk, somewhat unenthusiastically, but ended up discovering some wonderful souvenirs to bring back to friends in the states. It’s always good to be out and about with the locals, even if there’s no special reason for it, no?
In the evening, we arrived at the theatre to find that we had only a very small audience for the show. We got ready with a little trepidation of playing to only a handful of people, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while it was a small audience, it was not ridiculously so. It was a good first show of the week and we look forward to successively larger houses as the week progresses.
— David Morden