Friday, February 13, 2009

Zapped into living!

Was I zapped? Yes I was and I’m terribly happy that I actually was.
‘Cause here were a bunch of us artists who’ve always wanted to do something with movement, something arbitrary, something that would lead, quite simply put, to breaking structured forms and yet creating new ones that do not hinder the performer from the expression. Somewhere down the line, we lost ways. One became a theatre activist and a representative of a media collective, a documenter by choice; the other, a theatre performer, with a pen that is indeed mightier than the sword and a talent that sure defeats any sword on earth: copywriting par excellence; and the third, the author of this blog: a wayward journalist who is still trying to find his feet, grappling with theatre, ghosts of dance, an uncontrollable gab and several other issues that will literally need forever to even list or correct, half way through.
Here we were in this temple of local culture, with half hearted paintings of ‘the gurus’ of a much-loved and often over-lauded form of classical singing, right at the doorway and a very ignorable and at times silly architectural design, that often is the only thing that sets it apart. They reserve seats for management, RIGHT IN FRONT! Which god forsaken venue does that anymore? The organisers then double the ticket prices and we pay through our noses, literally. What happened to Free Art? Where did the entire hullabaloo go? Is the city no more a home to free art?
Oh! That was a decade ago? Damn it!
So we avoid all the artsy fartsy thingamajigs who are lolling around and pretending pretensions, much like my other favourite breed, the directorial dramatics club – something that the three of us were quite pissed off about at that very moment.
People mingled, people talked, people preened and people walked, but nobody had any clue what awaited us and if they did, they did wisely to shut up and act all naïve. The sweethearts! The deafening bell rang and we rush in, chose appropriate seats, till we’re asked to sit in front – the cheaper tickets were sold out huh? Slimebags! We soon settled down, not before we noticed the one lone performer on stage helping usher the crowds in. Who would have even guessed that she was already performing? Not us for sure. We like the total dimwits we were, giggled and praised her for her superb sense of calm. Ushering the audience in – all actors ought to do that. Isn’t that the easiest way to accomplish that much spoken of, audience connection? The much enunciated phrase that is always a part of a director’s dramatic repertoire!
The performance begins. She teases us, giving us a good solid ten minutes of random (we assumed) slightly demented faces and as said documenter claimed, schizophrenic moments! And then she began what wouldn’t end ever, at least for the next hour and a half. She began to move and we all moved with her. The remaining performers soon were on stage too and with the first sequence they had earned a loyal audience. A brilliant play of light, describing almost everything one wanted it to describe for themselves, got the whole performance to a brilliant start. My queer eyes of course noticed the beautiful bodies on stage. All the men seemed well-hung (they were in tights! Hallelujah!) and one of them seemed quite irregularly hairy. The sequences only got better, with amazingly choreographed pieces and music that only left you, in the words of a simple man, spellbound.
The performance was called ‘Could I just draw your attention to the brevity of life’ and was performed by the Compagnie Philippe Saire. It was fantabulous! What stood out the most was the subtle mix of narrative, reality, fantasy, erotica and fluidity in a mellifluous combination that hasn’t been perfected or even attempted on a Bangalore stage before.
I was enthralled by the sheer contrasts that were being represented in each sequence, be it in the highly image-evoking-based descriptive form of narrative-through-movement or the more perceivable paradoxes of emotion enacted and emotion exuded. A smile was never just a smile and was often as sinister as an evil smile could get.
The audience was their toy as they played with us, shocking us, forcing us to laugh at situations we didn’t want to, testing our patience, making us question our intellect and most importantly challenging the notion in everyone’s mind that they could possibly pre-determine the context and the possible flow of representations. Nothing was guessable and nothing archaic or cliché was ever encountered. Popular icons were reduced to subverting symbols and subtle movements to mind-shattering mirror images of life.
This was life as anyone could see it. Arbitrarily portrayed but always making perfect sense in everyone’s own mind, in one’s unique way of thinking. Nobody could have dismissed it as being too elitist or vague for normal consumption. The images were apt and described exactly what they had to. What was more impressive was the amateurish air that the performance took on. An air that was much intellectualised over and stank of heavy practice sessions. The efforts that went into not-making-it-look-practiced ought to be commended.
I personally loved the disco ball sequence that connected the audience more deeply to the performer. There was an option thrown open for communication and interaction, I assumed, but didn’t have the guts to react to it.
Which brings me back to the prologue to this description; the uselessness of the lives of us three fools. We really had no idea about what we we’re doing with our lives, all thanks to the brilliance of the performance and the ability it had to take our breath(s) away. However as the magic settled in and the whole performance was a thing of the recent past, it dawned on my fragile soul, that the whole message was actually just that!
Life is brief, shot-lived (ha-ha!) and the lesson was to learn that we need to do things instead of cribbing about them. We need to move on and not get bogged down by things that life throws at us. There’s nothing definite, there’s no right or wrong – there’s just life and the urge to live it, which ought to be the biggest priority for everyone. There’ll always be the tempters, the dominators, the ditchers, the users, the haters, the ignorers, the evil doers and we will be these very things in someone else’s life. So all of us need to focus on the finer aspects of life, ignore the bad and indulge in the good, for life is indeed a short journey and you get to live it just once. You cannot control it, it controls you, so live with it and live well. Lesson well learnt!