Theatre Speaks

Mansi Multani
Actor, Singer
[English and Hindi Theatre ]
Which is the last best play you saw?

THE GENTLEMAN'S CLUB by Patchworks Ensemble (Puja Sarup and Sheena Khalid)

Your favourite 'adda' to see a play?

Since I end up seeing most plays in Bombay, it would be Prithvi, most certainly.

Your favourite playwright

William Shakespeare. Having studied him in school and also since I 've been working in many Shakespeare productions, I feel I've gotten to revisit his writing. Each time I've read him, it's made me find something new about his writing to love.

Your favourite play-character

Champa in Vijay Tendulkar's SAKHARAM BINDER and the Fool in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

The most hilarious play you have seen

When I first saw HAMLET THE CLOWN PRINCE by Rajat Kapoor, I remember laughing off my seat! I had never seen anything like it before. This is when I must have been 22 years old.

A passage from an important play that you can recite

Friends, Roman, Countrymen... from JULIUS CAESAR. We had to learn and enact it in a school play and it's stayed with me since.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre

I saw HAIR in London and it was exhilarating. THE WOMAN IN BLACK transported me to its world completely. I saw these very early on in my career and they had me very excited about the things theatre has the power to do. That, it has the ability to make you feel so much.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

It's beautiful and hopeful to see the audiences filling up stage shows and getting more curious and receptive about the medium but we need to keep churning out work that questions and find audiences that seek. They both affect each other so much and it's essential that they both must continue to push each other.

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

I saw a documentary made by Simon Brook on his father, Peter Brook, in which he spoke about how important it is to shed your skills, become empty, be ready to take a risk and get into a state akin to learning how to swim to be an actor. I found that very interesting.

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

In one of the shows of PIYA BEHRUPIYA, my false hair was loosening and starting to come out without my realising it. There's a scene where Malvolio comes in and startles me with yellow stockings on. I turn around to see him and jump back in shock and that is the exact moment in which, to my utter bewilderment, my false plait fell to the floor. It was hilarious and one of the blessed theatre boo-boos which make for sheer magic.

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

Chris Larner's AN INSTICNT OF KINDNESS. He does the entire play alone, with just a chair and takes on different characters with such ease and genuineness. Most importantly, it's his own personal story and deals with the very important and controversial subject of euthanasia. It was so honestly told, it completely broke my heart. I met the actor-director backstage, incredibly overwhelmed, and we wept together for a moment in embrace. It was something I'll never forget.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer

Meenal Aggarwal is a wonderful set designer. I loved her work in I DON'T LIKE IT AS YOU LIKE IT most recently.
Gagan Riar is my favourite stage actor in Bombay.
I love Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan. They have such musical treasure. It's been such a pleasure to be part of their conceptualisation for STORIES IN A SONG.
I've really enjoyed watching Mohit Takalkar (Aasakta) and Adishakti's work on stage.

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed

I loved Jyoti Dogra's NOTES ON CHAI. And the Sita Apaharan by Nrityagram. I also enjoyed MUSEUM OF SPICES IN DANGER by Rasika Agashe, KOOGU performed by Anish Victor and KARL MARX IN KALBADEVI, directed by Manoj Shah.

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?

Some friends and I ate some lamb kebabs and drank a pitcher of Mojitos before watching a show recently (at one of those alternative bar venues). In Bombay, or anywhere in the world, I'm the type of person who's happier watching theatre on a full stomach (also because it tends to growl when hungry and that makes me uncomfortable and can be disturbing for people sitting next to me)

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