Theatre Speaks

Maanvi Gagroo
[English and Hindi Theatre ]
Which is the last best play you saw and why?

The last play I saw and liked was this Iranian production of Jon Fosse's DREAM OF AUTUMN. Although it was in Iranian with English super-titles being projected on a screen upstage, I felt every single moment in the play. The performances were so gripping and moving. It was a lovely experience!

Your favourite adda to see a play

I think I'll have to say Prithvi although I do enjoy some of the more experimental spaces that have opened up in Mumbai recently.

Your favourite playwright

It's too hard to choose just one playwright but these days I'm fascinated by Jon Fosse. His plays are extremely layered and inherently tragic. In fact, in the first read, his plays seem very tough and confusing but once you get deeper into the text, it's an actor's dream because it leaves so much for the actor to interpret and convey!

Your favourite play-character

Definitely Shakespeare's Viola. She's just so loveable. She's fierce, intelligent, witty and so endearing.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

So there's this book called 'Rani Nagphani ki kahaani' by Harishankar Parsai. We recently performed a rehearsed reading of it (much like the reading of a play). I think it should be made into a film. The tone of the book is so sarcastic and witty and so contemporary that I really think it would resonate with everyone if it were to be made into a film. Also I like films that give you a message (or several) without letting you know you're getting one. This text is just that!

The most hilarious play you have seen

I think I'd have to say GHALIB KI DILLI. I'd seen it in Delhi many years ago, when I had nothing to do with acting or anything of that sort but I remember laughing my guts out and telling my parents that they should take me to watch plays more often.

A play, which is over-hyped

If I'm reading a play and I don't find it interesting, I leave it midway. So it'll be unfair to call a play over-hyped if I haven't even read it completely.

An important play (but ignored)

POSTCARDS FROM BARDOLI. Can't say for certain if it's ignored but it's definitely important and has the potential to go far.

A play character you would like to ''dialogue'' with

Peter Pan.

A passage from an important play that you can recite

Important play? Hmm..I can recite all my dialogues from most of my plays.

A classical play that you should have read

WAITING FOR GODOT. I've seen many productions of the play but still not read it.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre

THE BLOOD WEDDING by Federico Garcia Lorca. It was my first experience ever with acting. I got into it thinking "How hard can it be?" Turned out, very! But I think I managed somehow and then I was addicted.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

I don't mind the theatre scene in Mumbai. Of course it can get a lot more experimental but it's pretty decent even now. I just wish it was more lucrative, commercially speaking, specially since Mumbai is such an expensive city to live in.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?

I like reading people's experiences in theatre. To learn about their journeys, their graphs and their personal learnings.

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?

Yes, too many incidents, good bad and the ugly. I remember this one time when I just completely blanked out on stage. It was just before my big monologue and I guess I'd psyched myself out or something but the minute I got to that part, I drew a complete blank. Those were the worst 5 seconds of my life. And every second of silence on stage weighs a ton! Anyway somehow I managed, but yeah it was memorable as hell!

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?

I'd have to say the same Iranian play, DREAM OF AUTUMN. It was just brilliant- the way they portrayed physical intimacy without even touching each other (something that's considered inappropriate in their culture in public). Also, their set design was bang on!

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer

I absolutely love watching Naseer Sir on stage. The way he holds the audience's attention is remarkable. I also really enjoy watching K.K.Raina Sir perform on stage. They're such a treat to watch.

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed

I saw Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST recently and I think it's significant because I've never seen something like that come out of India. The scale, the set, the performances are all splendid. I hope it sets a trend for the coming years.

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chai... or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?

One of the perks of having a good/successful play is that it travels. So one gets to experience various cultures across the country and/or internationally. I love performing in Kochi. It has the best food to offer. Then of course, there's Delhi where performing comes with its own gastronomical advantages.

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