A motley bunch of people has a tryst with theatre at Stray Factory's auditions
“Hello, Aladdin. Nice to have you on the show. Can we call you ‘Al?' Or maybe just ‘Din?' Or, how 'bout ‘Laddi?' Sounds like ‘Here, boy! C'mon, Laddi!'” a 11-year-old boy reads with all his might. His mother prods him to pronounce some words right. But, he is unaware of her and the world around him.
This school-goer is auditioning for Stray Factory's Hitchcock. This entertainment collaborative, spearheaded by Sharavana Raghavan (who likes to be called Sharan), is looking for actors, backstage crew, production managers and front office help for Hitchcock and future productions.
Once the little boy finishes reading his lines, Sharan appreciates him and doles out papers filled with monologues and dialogues from films to a motley crowd gathered at his house in R.S. Puram.
Memorable lines from Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather and Taxi Driver find place in them, alongside lines from The Holiday, F.R.I.E.N.D.S (the TV show) and Ratatouille.
Everyone in the group — software engineers, marketing professionals, gym trainers, medical transcriptionists and college students — picks a monologue or two of their choice, intently goes through them (some even pace around the room rehearsing their lines) and reads them out to the group with utmost sincerity.
As they read, Sharan notes down his comments. Some of them are asked to choose different lines, and experiment with emotions and diction.
At the end of every session, participants come out feeling happy.
“It was a lot of fun. I don't expect to be selected, but I really wish we have more reading sessions like these,” says one.
Another is so thrilled with the idea of reading lines from movies that he immediately rushes to call his friends over to join in the fun.
Around 45 people turned up for the audition. “This is the most we have had. Even in Chennai, only 20 to 30 people would show up. This was awesome. We didn't expect this,” says Sharan.
“It was good to see people with no prior experience in theatre reading lines very well. There was so much seriousness even at the audition level. Most had good diction. Some who had diction issues, emoted well,” he adds.
Among those who turned up, says Sharan, were housewives, copywriters, a film student, a chef and even an Inspector of Central Excise. The youngest was 11 and the oldest, 56.
“I managed to fill a couple of roles for Hitchcock. But, based on the response, I'm pretty sure that by the end of this year, we'll come up with a production with an all-Coimbatore cast,” he says.