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1-888-DIAL-INDIA Featured Actor: Dianne K. Webb

Dianne K Webb
Dianne K Webb

Name: Dianne K. Webb

Roles: Voice, Anne, Lisa, Susan

How did you first get involved with Shunya?

I met Yaksha Bhatt through a filmmaker who was putting together a short film for Daya and I ended up doing a small part. After that Yaksha and I were in another short film together that showed at Voices Breaking Boundaries. Then I met several other Shunya people in a Writers Group started by Sara Kumar. I was glad and curious to be asked to audition for 1-888-Dial India and am having a great time working with Shunya Theater.

Tell me about your theatre background.

I grew up back stage at a variety of community theaters doing everything from prompting, crew, costuming, props, so by the time I was the mother of a budding actor (now a professional actor in Boston) I began directing a theater troupe and working on developing original pieces with teens for issues based theater. I am fascinated with the ability of theater to create a mirror for the human condition, a pause where we can see ourselves, laugh at ourselves, cry at our losses, find new meaning in old stories.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

Great. I am enjoying all my new theater friends as I forge connections to theater arts here in Houston. Shunya is a great group to work with.

How to you go about creating your character?

I research characters after reading the play through several times and studying the lines. In the case of the character, Lisa, I re-read Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht to get a little into the character’s head. I watched segments of Mother Courage on YouTube, looked for costume ideas and thought about what make-up might get across her state of distress. I also thought about what her motivations for calling a suicide hot-line might be and if she was actually going to “do it.”  So, I guess the short answer is research and really getting into the play, and into a character’s “head.”

What do you find funniest about the play?

I love the political commentary about outsourcing and suicide…both things capable of changing Indian and American society in unexpected ways. I love the “ridiculous” of the idea which is just extreme enough to be plausible. And I love the caricature of American society.

This play has some very graphic language. Do you think pushing these types of boundaries is part of the reason this play is so funny?

As I used to say to my writing students, you can use graphic language if it fits the character of the plot of your work…I am not sure the play would communicate its ideas without the crassness.

1-888-DIAL-INDIA Featured Actor: AbhiRoy Cheema

AbhiRoy Cheema
AbhiRoy Cheema

Abhiroy Cheema is acting with Shunya for the first time in the role of Arun Gupta, the lead in “1-888-DIAL-INDIA”

Tell me about your theatre background.

My interest in Theatre developed early on in my childhood. I got my formal training in Theatre from Mr. Sudam Waghmare, in Mumbai who was an alumni from National School of Drama (NSD) Delhi & voice training from Mr. Pratap Sharma in Mumbai. I have been a part of several theatrical productions including those with Ekjute, Ansh & Upstage Theatre.

Arun can be a pretty coarse character, how do you think the audience will react?

In my opinion, there is an ‘Arun’ in everyone, only with different degrees of ‘check’ or ‘control’. In other words Arun is a character who takes his liberties and pushes his limits to get what he wants. Bad language is his tool to establish his superiority – and he is super confident. I think we can expect different reactions from different groups of audiences – some may find him funny, some arrogant, some outrageous and some may want to be him.