Once upon a time, I was a king.
No, this isn’t a fantasy story that I’m writing although the opening is making me question whyever not. But, it’s a truth. When I was in the seventh grade, because none of the tall boys in our class were available, it was decided that I’d play a king.
I had short hair at the time and I was wearing a turban so none of the audience members knew that a girl was playing a king…until the turban came off that is. Then there were gasps.
Right now, it feels quite Shakespeareanesque but then, it just made me mildly annoyed because being a tall girl at fourteen meant I had to do things I wasn’t very happy doing. Like playing a man on stage.
I have not performed on stage since then – don’t let the title of this post fool you. Though I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I knew I just had to get the first dialogue out without fumbling and I’d be okay but, I grew quite scared of the stage. And even though I was told I’m a good orator, I was not ready to talk on stage. I did participate in dance performances, but those were never on my shoulder. Being a king on stage meant the entire thing was on me. It was terrifying.
I have, however, seen quite a few performances on stage since then, including a few plays. All thanks to a friend who, being in DU, was more culturally rounded than me.
The first play that I remember seeing on stage was As You Like It followed by Macbeth. These were not faithful renditions of the plays but musicals where Macbeth was called Macky-B, played by Ranvir Shorey and they were in clown makeup.
I think that’s the day I realized what mom used to keep telling me about the charm of watching plays, all her stories of watching them at Prithvi theatre or writing scripts and performing them on her school stage.
The most elaborate play that I saw was A Few Good Men at NCPA. I remember feeling extremely posh – I had dressed with care because I didn’t want to appear uncultured – and even though I had spent a lot of my school years on stage, the way they used that space to create locations was absolutely mesmerizing.
I saw one more play before the pandemic put a stop to it all – again all thanks to my more culturally advanced friend who would find a play, convince me by saying Suchi let’s go see a play, and I’d just follow her, knowing I’d have a good time. Incidentally, I found the tickets to this play in my inbox and it was on 8th March, 2020. It had been a special performance for Women’s Day. I know it has been only two years but it feels like a lifetime ago. It was called 9 Parts of Desire and Ira Dubey played 9 different characters. It was at Prithvi theatre and this was the closest I had ever been to a stage. We were like right there and Ira was right in front of us, acting. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
I don’t know if it’s the fourth wall that makes watching plays different from watching movies or it’s the fact that they’re there and it’s not recorded and you’re watching it live – fumbles, tumbles, and all – that makes a difference. Is it that they use their entire bodies to perform or maybe it’s that they’re completely stripped of walls and are there, in front of you, asking you to trust them and just go with them on a journey. Maybe it’s a mixture of all of it. I think I’d have to watch a few more to be certain.
Have you seen plays on stage? What has your experience been like?
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