by Samyuktha PC
The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival landed for the first time in Chennai in 2011. Almost at the last minute, I hurried through registrations and managed to get a thoroughly exciting play, The Fruits of War, written by Earl T Roske. Karan Nair, Naren Weiss, Sudharshan and I had two weeks to put together a play that will run exactly for ten minutes and clear away from the stage in exactly 30 seconds, so we can make way for the other performances in the festival – phew! This play was about two friends who break into a foolish idealistic war, where the choice of weapons is an array of fruits. The story could have America and any third world country, India and Pakistan, Civilians and State, or you and me. We just knew the fruits had to come from somewhere and go back in that place so we can set it up and clear it up easily. And so came the two huge cardboard boxes lying in my dusty library, and many many posters from the road – that Karan and Naren – scavenged for around our house, dressed up like the street dwellers (as we had fixed their characters). We used the cardboard boxes, ‘Apples, Peaches and Cherries’ by Peggy Lee, and ‘Little Boxes’ by Malvina Reynolds (both sung by the actors) as our anchors to explore everything this war could signify for us. And, we created this –
This year, I got to know about everything well in advance and had to take up the challenge of writing and devising a piece from scratch. I spent the first month blabbering in my notebooks and blogs, working on everything else. What to write about? We had been informed that Alliance Francaise of Madras will give us their Michelin Auditorium for the festival, shouldn’t I do something about Thervoy?
Right at this time I was very excited to work on something with two people, Aditi Bheda (a dancer) and Malavika.PC (an artist, who is also my sister). I had two months in hand, and we first needed to get to know each other and manage to work together, and somehow the platform wasn’t right for me to take a premature stand on a fight only I will be fighting in the group. While moping around the house of my failed political attempts, I got my first typewriter as a birthday present. Somehow, a sunset, the beach, and a bucket of mussels was going around in my head. I sat down to write Sunset Sisters –
Shuttling between Pondicherry and Chennai, we created rain dances, and caught and cooked mussels. Somehow, for all the good reasons, different revelations have happened during these rehearsals. Three of us have now created a space for us to be cathartic about sibling rivalry and jealousy and honestly bear down our absurdities. Until yesterday, the play ran for some fifteen to twenty minutes. As of yesterday’s rehearsal, we’re ten minutes on the dot. Yay! We’re a bit jittery, and so thoroughly excited.
If you are in Chennai, this week, today is the first day of Short+Sweet Theatre Festival 2012 (7.00 to 9.00 p.m. Edouard Michelin Auditorium, Alliance Française of Madras, Nungambakkam) and we have been given the great chance of being the ‘opening play’ this year, with ten wonderful plays taking the stage after us. We perform again on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Hope to see you there.