“You need to get off those chairs. You are going to be on your feet for most part of this evening”, K. V. Siddhartha tells the participants of the theatre workshop, organised by Coimbatore Art and Theatrical Society (CATS) to celebrate World Theatre Day.
The workshop, at R.S. Puram Ladies Club, begins with a session, in which veteran theatre artiste, Dhinoo Hataria, recalls her early days of theatre. She remembers how as a three-year-old, she was fascinated by the stage. “I watched a Parsi play, when I was in Bombay. It created an impact on me.” She talked about her theatre days in Coimbatore. “Those days, Shashi Ghulati and I used to bring out at least one play every year.”
After this, Chanda Khaturia explains the first theatrical game of the evening. “You should tell your name and also make a gesture as you say it.” A few gesture as if they are doing the bhangra, dance like Hrithik Roshan and even do difficult stretches as they call out their names!
Siddhartha now steps in with a plastic bottle and a white piece of cloth. “Be creative and use them in unusual ways,” he says. A few cover their face with the cloth and become dacoits. Some others swirl it in the air like fishing nets. The bottle is used as a cricket bat, a phone and even a baby.
“Yes let’s!” is the name of the next game we play. A person will announce an activity as he walks. The rest should say, “Yes let’s” and enact the action.
“The game is all about agreement and cooperation, which is important in theatre,” says Siddhartha. We play the piano, dance the hip-hop, cut vegetables and even scratch our backs for this one.
In the second part of the workshop, a pair of participants is given a topic to enact. Siddhartha and Jaswant perform the first skit. Jaswant plays the guy who is sitting on the park bench and is reading a newspaper. Siddhartha comes, sits next to him and tries to read from his paper. Jaswant is irritated. In the end, Siddhartha manages to get the paper from him.
The second skit, in which an employee feigns illness and asks the boss for leave, becomes a favourite with the crowd. Anju, as the employee and Rajesh, as the boss who knows that she is faking it, are really funny.
The “Spin off game” is next. The rule is to hold our hands with our partner and spin. Then we break off from each other and spin separately. When the command “Stop” is given, each of us has to say something. This game is fun as a few come up with funny lines such as “Oh! I’m so constipated!” and “I want to marry that beautiful lady!”
The game “Park Bench” involves two actors, where one has to act as if he does not know who he is. The second person, who joins him, has to invent a profession for him. The former has to guess his profession from the latter’s descriptions. This is a brain teaser as a few even act out complicated professions like astronomy and gynaecology!
For the last round the audience suggests a situation for the actors to act out. “A husband and wife are returning from a movie. The wife loses the key to the house and the husbands wants to desperately use the loo,” suggests a college boy. Chanda and Siddhartha keep the onlookers in splits as they act out the scene.
The World Theatre Day celebrations concluded with continued laughter, animated conversations and a nice home-made spread of chole, cutlets, bisibele bhath, curd rice and cake.