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From Carnival to Rehearsal

globe-theatre-pic

“If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

Life is a comedy, and man is a giddy thing.  Over the past few weeks, Shunya members have been drinking excess amounts of green-happy bhang-like mazaa madness.  Perhaps a little too much…ahem.  But such is the cyclical nature of the dramatic life.  In classical comedies, this period of carnival is a licensed time of misrule and topsy turvy anarchy that gives way to a more austere time of testing and character building before the final reunification and celebration at the end.

This abnormal season of carnival and mistaken identifies ultimately necessitates plot and a sense of restored order.  The tricks and excesses of theatrical Mardi Gras are just that.  We get away with them because they are staged illusions that ultimately leave us longing for something true and most often difficult.  In two weeks time, the cast and crew will begin rehearsals, a time of joyful testing and play building.

To lead us into the rehearsal season, we invite you to one last hurrah – Party on the Hill – at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.  Join us on the hill as we watch a beautiful Odissi classical dance performance.  We’ll be having a couple more events during rehearsals, including one where you can help us construct a Wonder Wall of Ideas and Quotes, which will be featured at the show in August!  So stay tuned for that as well!

“O, wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That has such people in’t!”

Casting Call for Trailer!

image Cressandra Thibodeaux, filmmaker and executive director of 14 Pews, is looking to cast two South Asian parts for an upcoming trailer. If interested, please email her at cressandra@me.com:

Can you help me cast for the H-Town Multicultural Film Festival Trailer. The trailer will be 15 seconds long. I’m looking for a 70-100 year old Indian man who can play an instrument (guitar type) and a young 6 year old Indian boy or girl. I wanna do something like this International Film Festival Trailer

Finding Ananda – Play Reading

swami_vivekanandaWe meet again for another fun-filled evening of play reading! The play of the month is Finding Ananda by Vijay Padaki.

Synopsis: Vivek is a young Indian-American in Chicago, sent to India by his parents to discover his roots. They know the director of a Vivekananda theater project and request an internship for their son. Vivek arrives in India a skeptic, but will it be long before he changes his mind?

When: Saturday, May 18, at 4:00 pm
Where: Sara’s place

Want to come, or learn more about our readings? Email Anjana at anjana@shunyatheatre.org.

Facebook and Theatre

Facebook Wants a New Face
rishibando / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

It’s incredible how much social networking has changed the way we communicate and interact with one another. As a theatre company, we really have just begun to take advantage of the benefits of these methods of outreach and community engagement. I hope it continues, because I think it’s awesome. I also think it’s dangerous.

Facebook, in essence, is a kind of stage. You can post thoughts, jokes, opinions, pictures, and receive feedback from a collective of friends, an audience. This is exhilarating. Those who have never set foot on stage get to experience theatrical high jumps from their living room couches.

Even better – there’s no rehearsal. And here lies the danger. When we prepare for a show, we spend four to six weeks in rehearsal. We challenge each other mentally, physically, and emotionally. Only when we have gone through this collaborative preparation, do we dare put ourselves before an audience. Standing in front of an audience is scary. It can destroy you if you are not firmly grounded. This is why community is so essential. If there are blows to be had, then we take them as a team.

Facebook is a community. However, it’s a fragmented community. Individuals present themselves to the world. At Shunya, we present ourselves as a collective.

We encourage all of you to share your voice on stage – virtual and otherwise. But remember – rehearsal is the play.

Step Inside, Scene 2

Ever since reading Ira Hauptman’s “Partition”, I knew that one day I wanted to be a member of the team that would bring this beautiful play to life in Houston. Some eight years later, here we are!

Over the past few weeks, many people have approached me with the following question: So what is this play about anyway?

A directing teacher once told me that the first rule in approaching a well-written script is to admit that it’s beyond you – that you probably don’t know what it’s about. There are questions you will begin to ask, and there are discoveries you will make together with the cast, but don’t expect to find explicit answers by the end of the rehearsal process or by the end of this lifetime.

I could tell you the play is about Ramanujan, one of the most famous and mysterious mathematicians India (perhaps the world) has ever produced. I could say it’s a play dripping in numbers and covered in words. I could say there’s a sexy Indian goddess who has all the right answers and an obsessively insane and neurotic French mathematician. I could say it’s a colorful mosaic of cultural tapestries and enigmatic patterns. I could tell you it’s about the bizarre, creative, and destructive tension that exists between East and West, between Faith and Reason. Or I could come back to what every play and every day seem to really be about – friendship and love.

The articulation of these themes is not particularly useful as we prepare to enter the rehearsal room. They don’t move us anywhere. So I offer three questions:

1. How do you know what you know?

2. What separates you from me?

3. What’s your favorite number?

Theatre is one of the only art forms that changes, moves, and breathes with the audience. It’s an incredible dialogue. And if the stars align, it can be breathtaking. We look forward to our upcoming rehearsal process, but even more, we look forward to meeting you and diving into an infinite series of questions.

Come meet the cast, step on stage yourself, and enjoy some food and drinks with the Shunya team at Avant Garden this Saturday, May 4th at 7 PM!

Truly, madly, deeply…
Sara