Ray Rediscovered

Created by OnePlusYou
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Naatak.. It gives you wings...


Can you hear us now? Good!!

Q: What stimulates our autonomic nerve action..?
A: A sold out show...

Q: What hormone is secreted by the adrenal medulla in response to having back-to-back sold out shows..?
A: Adrenaline...

Q: Quick synopsis?
A: A portrayal of some of finest of Satyajit Ray's short stores on thriller, horror, drama and comedy.. in short, total entertainment.

Q: Should I come? Can I still get tickets?
A: You bet! Dont miss this opportunity.. the cast & crew want to watch the show from the audience.. but of course can't. Get your tickets http://www.naatak.com/currentevent.html

Q: Other show dates?
A: The final two shows are on Nov 7th and 15th. Get your tickets http://www.naatak.com/currentevent.html


Inspiration.. Motivation.. Satisfaction.. Perfection.. - elusive but realisable. Entertainment? That's easy.. come and watch us.


Asymptotic Vibes

"Patol Babu..." opening night.. sold out.. packed audience.. grandeur sets.. detailed props.. excitement in the air.. tension in the mind...

It was a gala event with pomp and splendour, witnessed by the various media and press persons.

Follow us in this journey, watch some photo moments to experience the magic... the drama.. the comedy.. the tragedy.. the naatak ... aptly said so as.. "zindagi naatak hai.. naatak zindagi hai.."

video

So how did we do?

Read the review of the play on MercuryNews.com
Read the curtain raiser in Siliconeer Magazine
Read the article in Tri-city Voice

Be the next to review us.. come and watch us..

Get your tickets here.

http://www.naatak.com/currentevent.html


Symbiotic Metamorphosis

No, this is not a fantasy story... This is a narration of classic work by a group of volunteers for Naatak's 31st production "Patol Babu FilmStar & Other plays..." - an adaptation of some stories by Satyajit Ray... yes.. "the" Satyajit Ray!

Can we preserve the ambiance of his plays? Can we depict the emotions ? The finer nuances ?

Did I manage to draw your attention? Read on...

Armed with a set of talented cast & crew, we set forth to take on this project. We had a rigorous schedule of rehearsals, set design, prop procurement, set constructions.. of course all this involves planning and mutual cooperation between all the members involved.

We've come a long way in the making of "Patol Babu Filmstar & Other Plays"...

The coordination.. the rehearsals.. the tasks.. the challenges.. How is all this possible & accomplishable? 1 word - confluence

To answer our earlier question: We do our best to portray the plays. You be the judge.. the critique.. and the supporter. Come, watch our synergistic performance, experience the magic of Satyajit Ray and be pleasantly entertained.

A brief video of our adventures -

video


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlvDiqEvhWs

Get your tickets here.

http://www.naatak.com/currentevent.html

Vomitory Discussions

Often times our patrons, friends and others ask.. "So, how do you come up with the logistics of sets, props, lights.. etc? What is the planning process?..."

Allow me to spark off a series of articles addressing these topics and I'll keep them brief.

All things must have a beginning.. about 3 months back we started with a play reading followed by sets, props, lights etc discussions. Everybody pitches in with ideas on sets/props or their alternatives ;)

Although time consuming it was indeed fruitful. We did end up with a list of tasks, to-dos and follow-up discussions. Watch this video for a synopsis.

video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp3B-MbL6Rg

The keyword here is "kickoff"

Come..witness our adaptations.. and characterisations.. watch us perform. Get your tickets here.

Trailer - Patol Babu Filmstar and Other Plays

More shades of our production


Painting, drilling, measuring, cutting…


This was what the Production crew was busy doing all weekend to get the sets ready for the play. A great set and wonderful props add that extra charm an actor needs to get into his character.
Living room - To create this, we painted flats with the right color, fixed legs for support, and adorned them with wall-art depicting the period.
Book shelves - We got a donation of book shelves that we painted and stained to get the right look, procured numerous props that are required for the play, and finally glued them on so that they don't fall while moving them in and out.
Park/Garden - Now to create this look, we wanted to created picket fences. These are expensive if bought, and labor intensive to construct. So, we re-used old railings and painted them white; then make the tops using foam board, and finally twined in creepers which were made using leaves and flowers.
This are just a few things among the other major construction being done over the past weekends. To see all the beautiful sets and props, come and watch the show on Nov 1st, 6th, 7th @ Cubberly, Palo Alto. Buy Tickets here

Showdown...

We had our first full presentation .. um.. er.. a.k.a adjudication last week.. Here is a reel of the poster shoot proceedings..

Aey bachchu tu dekh le..
Mere play ka yeh rehearsal...

video

Intrigued? Fascinated? Curious? Then watch us perform at Palo Alto and San Francisco. Buy your tickets here.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYDP_L1qygQ

Sneak Peek

Sattanathan Says Series (SSS) - post 1

Contributed by Omar:

kamala: gaurav, we need to give you a fake beard to make your character as a chowkidaar look more creepy..
gaurav: oh you know what i can do!! I can grow my beard out really long and make it all messy..it'll look more real.
kamala: but we don't need your beard for mr. eccentric which is right after bhuto..
gaurav: oh that's easy, i can shave off my beard right after bhuto and be clean shaved and ready for mr. eccentric...
sattanathan: (sheepishly) err...if i may..just one minor thing..this sounds fine for the first day of the show..but what about the other show dates? how are you going to grow a beard in one day for the next show?
gaurav: ya but.........oh

Pictures from the Publicity shoot


Going hunting...

" Good news.. so far post vice-presidency Dick Cheney hasn't shot anybody.. thanks to his cologne 'Duck' !"

One of the biggest tasks for any production is procuring and/or building props and sets. For a detailed description and analysis of the various aspects/tasks of a production refer to this definitive post by our producer.


What does such work entail ?

Obtaining the requirements (reading the script), understanding them (clarifying with the producer/director), ROI (time spent vs value added), market analysis (research methods of getting it), feasibility study (build vs procure). The next step is procurement (scavenge: beg/borrow/steal/rent/buy) - which gives way to an iterative build process (design, implementation and test). There is also post-production followup work (return the items borrowed/rented and store the rest).

As one can see, it is not only time-consuming and nettling but after a while gets annoying.

Um.. personally, this reminds me of something else I been doing for a while.. can't remember now.. what is it..? ;)

So how are we doing?

Our zealous team is doing pretty good. Our expeditions have taken us from thrift stores to prop rental houses to home depots. Every trip we always see something new and different - always a learning experience.


Sample loot













Want to help?

We are still looking for more items. If you know of any prop rental shops, drop us a message.

Producer's Note: A sneak peak into the Production cycle...

When I was involved in my first Naatak play for backstage help, I never knew I would need to worry about details like - what's the dimension of that platform, will the lights work in that section, do we need a monitor backstage for sounds, etc. etc. - one day. As Producer (Production Manager), I'm expected to know not only what the sets will look like, but also other aspects of production - props, costumes, makeup, lights, sounds, publicity, ticketing, and the whole shebang.

When the Director shared her "vision" with me, the next step was to see how that could be achieved on stage in a practical, yet cost effective manner.

This play being different from earlier Naatak plays in its style - 4 short stories versus 1 entire play - comes with a list of challenges attached to it. Each play belongs to a different genre and of course has a different theme. Naatak being non-profit, our budgets are always limited and we cannot always go all out and buy the most expensive items for the play. Hence, we try and borrow/rent as much as we can or else make it ourselves.

Here's a sneak peak into the various production aspects that need to be taken care of.

Sets -- Designing the sets for this production is becoming one of the most challenging tasks. With each play having a different theme, the setup is different. To ensure fluidity through the plays allowing very little time for changes in between, a great deal of thought is being put to how set pieces can be moved in and out seamlessly in the least amount time, what minimal structure can get the message across and at the same time look good. We have already have multiple brainstorming sessions with multiple revisions before we can come to a final layout.

Props -- Any item that an actor uses on stage is a prop. If the scene demands a phone conversation, there needs to be a phone on stage. For this, the team sat together to read the scripts to identify props needed. With this list in place, team has been busy scouring stores and homes of friends for items that can be used.

Costumes -- What makes an actor look good and stand out is definitely his performance. But you've got to give a good amount of credit to his costume. A brilliant actor would not be able to do justice enough without a good costume. For this as well, the scripts were read to understand the theme and era the plays are set in, a detailed description of each character and his look. Once this was done, the team got busy to start procuring costumes that would fit the role.

Makeup -- A young 30 year old man can look like an old ailing 65 year old! That's the magic of makeup. What's a play without makeup?

Lights -- With sets, props, and costumes adding to the overall look of a play, lights give it the final icing on the cake. Every play and each and every scene has a different light setting - light cues are one of the most crucial elements of a play.

Sounds -- Adding sound effects is like adding that cherry to your cake. It adds a great deal of impact. In the past I've seen some Directors not use any sounds for the entire play, while some used it through out. With a play as this, the sounds are going to ideally enhance the theme of each story, keeping the audience engaged till the very end.

Publicity/Marketing/Ticketing --If getting the stage in order for a play is absolutely important, getting the word out and those tickets sold is far more important. After all the hard work put in, the joy of seeing a full audience is totally exhilarating. Postcards have been printed which are being distributed at various events, stores, restaurants, on cars, community centers; E-flyers are sent out to various forums, websites, association mailing lists; advertising options are being investigated to spread the word.

This was just a preview at the various aspects involved in the production. It has been less than a month since we started work on the production and the progress has been great! This being my debut venture as a Producer, I hope to learn a lot from the others as well as make this project as fun as possible for everyone. :)

Hoping this has intrigued you into seeing what the final product would be like. So, hurry and get those tickets before the early bird discounts end.

Poster is here!





Adding two shows in SF - Intersection for the arts

We will be performing in San Francisco as well!!! For about a month and a half we went through a whole bunch of spaces and performance venues in SF. Fall season is a busy one in the popular SF. This did not make things easy for us. The fundamental difference between a show in SF and the ones we put up in Palo Alto is of the space itself. While we enjoy the wide procenium , wing space, dressing rooms in our favorite Cubberley, in SF our choices for such grandeur are limited. Black box in their nature, most spaces in SF are about 1/4 of the Cubberley stage. Often this means, no stage, seating under 100 , limited lobby space, at most one dressing room, etc. These can be viewed as limitations if we choose to replicate what we do at Cubberley however, it is an opportunity to try something new, to view adjustments as artistic choices and adapt the show for an audience in an intimate setting.

We found NOH Space last year and that suited well to our needs. Even without a stage and less than 100 seats in the audience, we were able to make adjustments and they were able to accomodate us. It was working out perfectly for us till we found out ... that alas, they are not available for a show this November. This began a series of emails, phone calls, visits to the great city to find out where, when and which space will work for us. This is not an easy task. Renting a theater requires apart from a couple of grand, looking at dimensions, audience seating, lightboard plans, soundboard plans, working with the schedules of the people who are incharge and negotiating and negotiating and some more before you decide to put a deposit down. Reading the contract repeatedly to look for conditions, one place doesn't allow us to sell the tickets, they would like to sell the tickets through their box office or site, another doesn't allow any food or drink in the lobby, one charges extra for sound engineer to explain sound board and the list goes on. Take this process and multiply this by 6 or 7 and you get the idea of how much effort and time was spent so that this show could be enjoyed by the SF crowd.

Why SF? Although this is a no-brainer for many since SF is the hub for all things artistic, innovative, creative... for Naatak it is refreshing. We mainly perform in the south bay but every now and then a director or producer will feel it is worth doing the hardwork of hauling our set pieces and all our paraphernalia to the city and give the SF crowd the experience of Indian theater.

I believe for this production we felt especially drawn to presenting in SF. The main reason, I believe would be that Satyajit Ray's artistic presence transcends the Indian diaspora (our audiences mainly in south bay is indian and more diverse in SF) and the artistic atmosphere in SF is inviting for us to share our adaptation. We will be performing two shows on Nov 15 (2pm and 6pm) at the Intersection, and we cannot wait!

From the Director's desk: Rehearsals

A lack of post usually indicates a writer's block. Or it could be that there is just no time from rehearsals and production meetings.

We have rehearsals AT LEAST 4 times a week. Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 6 pm. Looks like the scheduling nightmare has been put to rest. It is especially difficult to get the scheduling right due to the nature of the plays - short plays with actors playing different characters.

I tend to keep rehearsals light, tension free and a brain storming session. After all, we are here to have fun while learning a lot from the process. Needless to say we seem to be having a lot of fun and at the same time we manage to cover the scenes outlined for the session.

The rehearsals have a process to them. This has helped me immensely in the past as an actor. I have often cherished directors who are methodical, have a process and implement it. It was so much easier for me as an actor to follow that. And I have done the same in my directorial venture.

The first rehearsal involved table reading followed by character interpretations. This exercise is immensely important because there can be so many dimensions and interpretations to a character. Each actor or a director could have a pre-conceived notion of a character and this exercise dissolves that notion and opens so many avenues to explore. I have observed that my actors have particularly cherished this. It gives them some control over their character, and they are allowed to experiment unless it completely jars with my vision. Since some of the plays involve intricate plots with heavy climaxes we have also spoken about backgrounds of each of these characters, concocted stories about them from the day they were born, their childhood, living conditions, their relationships and taken it one step ahead to see how they would be after the play. This process of character development is key to consistency on stage.

The second rehearsal involved sub-texting. This exercise is a fun exercise wherein the script is dropped and the actors based on context come up with their own lines. After this exercise actors know that it is important not only to read your lines but also the co-actors lines and even the ones in "italics". Reading a script word for word will have you understand the context much better and the actors will be much more in sync with the director. This is also an exercise which will be revisited later as it is important for an actor to pick up from where another actor dropped off - because he forget his lines, or was late in making an entry or a third actor spoke his lines too soon.

The third rehearsal involved some sense of blocking. Here the actors are told how the stage will look like and what furniture they will be given to play with and how best to use the stage so that it is not too static. Though blocking will change with every production need, a general sense will keep the actors rooted. The scenes here were followed in a chronological manner so the actors remember the context.

Looking ahead, I have so much more fun exercises for my actors. Role-reversals, starting the play from any scene and still taking it to completion, changing the climax etc. etc. Some will catch my actors by surprise, some they will hate and groan through the exercise, some will be painful, some will be hilarious - but we will all walk away having learned a lot and increased our potential as actors. My actors teach me something new everyday, I hope they benefit the same from me.

From the Director's desk: An ode to the crew

While I get to know my cast better, let me present an ode to my crew. When I embarked on this journey I knew that without a good production crew everything fades away: good scripts, talented actors and intuitive direction. Needless to say I was worried sick about this aspect. Well, fact is, I shouldn't have.

I have been gifted with the best crew there ever can be. They just fell into my lap. I wonder if they are going to make me pay later because it just seemed too easy to have this wonderful, talented, smart people working for my production.

Some of them, I have had the opportunity of working with in Naatak's past productions and some of them I have heard of from before andthe rest it was my first time meeting them. I haven't met them all to write as of now, that will be updated later. But for those whom I do know, I would like to say a couple of lines about each of them personally, to let you know why each one of them will take the Ray production up another notch.

Juhi (Producer): When Sumit, Shubhhra and I started talking about a Ray production, initially nothing was clear - not even the director - except for one thing. We all knew we wanted Juhi to be the producer. The unanimous decision happened because this is one women who will slave it through and deliver. She has been involved in most if not all of Naatak's production in the past four years. It was time she got her dues with the title of Producer. I had have the pleasure of working with her in past Naatak productions. She is ever willing, forever cheerful and does not know how to say "NO". As producer she is learning :)

Shubhra (Publicity Manager): If you have a deadline and you are working for her and you haven't finished it yet, pack your bags, book a flight and leave the city, or move to hell or Erebus. But there is still no guarantee that she wont track you down and ask for an update. This is a powerhouse of energy and talent. Though I am disappointed that she is not acting in my production, she more than makes up for it in other ways. Aggressive in her ways and apologetic by heart.

Gopi (Stage Manager): I have worked with Gopi in my first production with Naatak, Jaanch Partaal. And then I used to run into him at various clubs after a couple of drinks (hic!). While I tried to recollect in that drunken haze, what would come to mind first is "that nice guy". That is the reason I think his gmail alias should be changed from "thatguyinsf" to "thatniceguyinsf". If only I had a younger unmarried sister as my gift to him. Gopi belongs backstage as much as SRK belongs on screen. No director/producer should have the courage to contemplate a production without Gopi in the team. That would be sheer foolishness.

Siva (Sets Manager): I don't know him much but he warmed up my heart through his Arnold Schwarzenegger-ish performance of "Chori-Chori". He continues to do so by posting status messages like "It's Belvedere time". Now which director wouldn't warm up to that? Eh? I liken him to someone who is very intuitive, a good team-player and girls, I hear he is very good with the errr...ummm...black and decker tools :)

Manjusha (Props Manager): When I met this woman, she reeked of smartness. In Tamil we would call this "choddi". Where is that unmarried brother of mine? She hits every production point on the head. Keen, enthusiastic and brilliant in production aspects, she is the up and coming star of Naatak's production team. I understand her as a person who is very objective, not given to frills and fancies and who will get the work done, ahead of time, with high quality.

Lakshmi (Designer): A must before any production goes on stage. She is the person who starts the revenues. Her designs are impeccable, intuitive and apt for every Naatak production. She works with every director, all their quirks and delivers their vision without them having communicated it to her. If she were God, I would ask her to redesign me. A dear friend and also in the cast this time showcasing her acting prowess.

Snigdha (Costumes Designers): Though I don't know her much, she looks great, dresses well and apparently comes up with great costumes. What more do you need in a costume designer? I am pretty sure she had read my scripts twice over before any of the cast did. She reads the scripts, gets the context, works with the director and then executes it. Very methodical. I likes!

More updates on other crew members will appear in part 2.

Cast - you will be suitably rewarded with an ode too. I am not sure if it will as nice but it definitely be much funnier :)

From the Director's desk: Ganapati Bappa Moriya!

Postcards were delivered to my house yesterday by my very ebullient publicity manager, Shubhra Prakash. The time from when the images were delivered to her to the time of delivery was less than 72 hours. WoW! Talk about efficiency.



I am not an overtly religious person. But I do believe in "prabhu ka naam leke". So I delivered the first postcard and invited our "kulla daivam" Ganapati Bappa first.

Postcards Yippie (Click on images to see in better resolution)



This is a print screen shot so prolly not the best quality .....

Ray: Uber-Cuca

Welcome to the RayRediscovered huddle of the Director, Producer and crew. I would like to call it the Session "Zero"...since this is the first we all have met to read and discuss the plays.

Following the play reading and brainstorming session, we have an idea of the sets and props required. But as always ideas are amenable to change based on various factors like cost, feasibility, mobility etc. In short, without going too much into the details, we have different sets for the different plays being staged.

Meet the fun crew:
Director            : Kamala Subramaniam
Producer/
Production Manager : Juhi Mohan
Publicity Manager : Shubhra Prakash
Ticketing Logistics : Ashok Malani
Costumes Designer : Snigdha Jain
Stage Manager : Gopi Rangan
Sets : Siva Kollipara
Props : Manjusha Gangadharan
Sounds : Shekhar Hemnani
Lights : Srikar Srinath
I've probably missed others..

Well, those are just the titles. We contribute across domains and encourage suggestions/feedback as well.

How are we doing thus far? Well, we had our storage run.. we had our design run.. now we plan to layout our sets design in paper and figure out how to do the sets with minimal scene transition times. Shoot us an email if you are interested in building sets or procuring props.
Screws: 3$, Wood: 7$, Paint: 14$,
Gratification from a production: priceless
For some hobbies in life there is money..
For others there is Naatak
Lights! Action! Camera! Rolling!

From the Director's desk: The Talented Ray Cast

  • NEHA GOYAL JAIN
  • R.S. SATTANATHAN
  • PALAK JOSHI
  • TEJAS MANJUNATH
  • BIS KANUNGO
  • OMAR SEHGAL
  • HARISH AGASTYA
  • GAURAV MISRA
  • RANJITA CHAKRAVARTY
  • LAKSHMI JAYARAM

Storage Run

As a non-profit theater group we practice and are dependent on reusing our production materials. Therefore, with the beginning of a new show there is an inevitable trip to our storage, where we look for everything we already have before we are out on a hunt for more. We often go with an idea of what we are looking for, however, often we run across items that give us new ideas.

This visit was especially exciting for me, since I was informed that a committed bunch of members from Naatak's previous show had generously provided their time to arranging and organizing our ever cluttered storage. It was great to find items neatly placed in boxes and set pieces organized. From past experiences, I can say that such organization made a world of a difference and we were able to go through everything in a timely manner.

Here's a sneak peek into the storage fun :)

http://picasaweb.google.com/prakashnitza/RayRediscovered?authkey=Gv1sRgCMSahdbO8JimhAE#

From the Director's desk: Auditions!

Auditions were held on August 22nd at 2pm. What a day it ended up being. Due to the overwhelming number of RSVP's especially the day before, we ended up having 67 people show up for the audition. This is probably the most in numbers for any Naatak production. I am happy that we have so many fans of Satyajit Ray and his stories out there.

What surprised me was the count of women. An astonishing number of women showed up and with them they bought truckloads of talent. This only goes to show that there are a lot of women out there who are good and Naatak needs to have more plays with women protagonists.

We were entertained with monologues until almost 6 pm. After which we shortlisted. It was sad to see some of them go, though they were talented, just because they didn't fit the role with respect to age. And what a fight the short-listed candidates put up. It just made casting so much more difficult for me. At 9 pm we called it quits.

As I gathered my bags, my papers and got into my car to go home and finally see my family for the day, my thoughts lingered on all the people who came. It requires a level of dedication, motivation, time, effort and courage to come and audition. For that I applaud them.

He was. So we are. Here.

Play: He was. So we are. Here. (A tribute to Satyajit Ray)

Characters:

  • Shubhra (effervescent, bubbly, full-on enthusiastic mid 20's woman)
  • Sumit (serious, contemplative, enunciates every word, mid 20's man)
  • Kamala (realistic, adamant early 30's woman)

Act 1, Scene 1:

Shubhra: Sumit, let's do something for the SF theatre Festival.

Sumit: Yes. lets.

Act 1, Scene 2:

Kamala: I am looking to do something new and exciting in theatre.

Sumit: Shubhra and me are working towards the SF theatre festival. We should all meet up and jam

******************************

Act 2, Scene 1:

Kamala: Come on in, guys. Let's read this script.

Shubhra: It's a good script, but this should be done more as a full-length play. What do we do for the theatre festival where it's format is half hour plays?

Kamala: Maybe we should more than a play.

Shubhra: Or four. And make it a full fledged play for Naatak.

Sumit: Yes something scintillating. I want to do a Karz remake.

Kamala: Ooooo, maybe we could one of those honee-anhonee stories.

Shubhra: Or Mungeri Lal ki haseen sapne.

Sumit: Hey guys - we could do Bhuto. It's a Ray short story.

Kamala: We could adapt more Ray stories.

Shubhra: Oh you know, we should have a Ray night. We should go all out....We should put in all our time and money and resources. Guys, guys, guys....

Sumit: This will be a tribute to the legend called Ray.

Kamala: Amen.

***********************************

He was. So we are. Here.

Join us in our journey as we a pay a tribute to the legend we know as Satyajit Ray.