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Here we share experiences, discoveries, research and tidbits of our journey in staging a sensitive play "Surya ki antim kiran se surya ki pehli kiran tak" by Surendra Verma. This is Naatak's 30th production

Naatak is a San Francisco Bay Area-based theater group dedicated to producing creative and thought-provoking plays. Since its founding in 1995 by students at UC Berkeley and Stanford, Naatak has staged 29 productions in English, Hindi and Tamil. For more information, visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Weekend!

Wow, what an opening. Thankfully nothing dramatic went down except of course the play. It all came together and thanks to the sets team and the actors we pulled off another fine showing for the Naatak group! The whole weekend is a surreal experience to be preparing all this time and suddenly it's showtime. No matter how much you've prepared, no matter what all you've thought about. Nothing really prepares you for opening night. It's always awesome to go on stage and create something completely new and unique for a new audience. I am thankful, happy and feel full and satisfied to be part of this great cast and crew team. It was a wonderful team effort.

Our second outing of the weekend was even better than the first and I can only thank the actors for their hard work and bringing all of the sets to life and thus giving a lot of meaning and life to our work. Thanks everyone.

Thanks to everyone's efforts in marketing our two shows we almost had housefuls on both night. What a spectacular showing that was. We should definitely be back in San Ramon at some point and get more and more people to come to our plays. I think the quality of our work and show that we put on will set the word of mouth out in the San Ramon area. I think we will definitely have a bigger crowd next time around.

Finally, I really want to say thank you to everyone on the sets team. You've done a stellar job. I'm proud to be part of your team and thankful to be in the company such selfless individuals who have volunteered so much time and have always pulled their weight and put 110%. Your work is paying off on a grand scale and it will pay off even more come Cubberley. The word is out Cubberley will be awesome no less. Phew... ok I'm going to sign off and go work. But can't wait for rehearsals and more shows this weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The M.Matya Chronicles --- सूर्य की अन्तिम किरण से सूर्य की पहली किरण तक

Its been thirty years since that fateful evening... and i still remember it like yesterday.. I know now that i was just a tool in the hands of fate playing out a carefully scripted part. As for today read how I feel at :

Obama vs. Okkak

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Surya Ki's music

When our director said she wants Hindustani Classical Music to portray emotions of 'Surya ki', I knew I had got myself into a herculean task. Surya Ki is intense. And this is a simplistic description of the play. Surendra Vermaji, the playwright, has amazed us by weaving layers of emotions into the script. It was evident, for music to bring out these emotions, only Raagas could do the magic. But the question was which ones?

Raagas are many. Each Raaga is time bound and has a mood; it evokes the mood best, when sung at the allotted time. Surya Ki progresses from Surya ki antim kiran (in music timings: din ka antim prahar) to Surya ki pehli kiran (din ka pratham prahar) so we did not need to consider Raagas sung in the other prahar of the day! While it seemed the search list was reduced by half, the long list of night Raagas explained why most music concerts happen in the evening or night!

Raagas are generally differentiated into three types - chanchal, shaant and gambhir. Surya Ki is deep and intense and it intuitively seems that gambhir Raagas would be the choice to make. However, Surya Ki's varied emotions should not be restricted to one type. There are moments of varied intensity in the play such as Okkak's agony or Sheelvati's light romantic moments with Pratosh.

So, the search continued. The play has three distinct emotions as they progress in the night - agony, romance and unfulfilled bliss. For agony there could be Malkauns with sadness, Shankara which has the quality of anger or Darbari - a deep, grave midnight Raaga. Romance could be Brindavani Sarang with joy, Bageshree and Sohni with longing, Darbari with erogenous feel, Chayanat or Jai Jaiwanti with fulfillment or Rageshree with celebration. Unfulfilled bliss in the morning could be Deskar, Vibhas, Bhairav or Lalit in their increasing levels of intensity, and ranging from being happy and thoughtful to being pensive. The best part of Hindustani Classical Music is that Raagas can overlap different emotions.

The play opens with Raaga Puriya Dhanashree, an evening passionate Raaga. It has anger as well as compassion set in it. This built in discomfort of varied emotions is brought by the combination of komal Rishabh, teevra Madhyam, komal Dhaivat and shuddha Nishad. The other choices of Raagas have been based on those belonging to the same (or similar) Thaats. (Thaat is the classification of Raaga. Various Raagas in one Thaat seem to belong to one family as they have similar notes (swar). Their sounds have similarity to certain extent, though their emotions may vary.)

So much for Surya Ki's music journey. Come with an ear to discover various moods of the play!

(Decision making involved brainstorming with Sharvari, Abhishek, Vinita, my music teacher in India, Lalita (our tabla player) and her friend, Harshada, as well as all dancers - Archana, Dhara, Juhi, Mahncy and Sowmya).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Natya Shringar

Designing beards, hairpieces, prosthetics, face sculpting...all the excitement lies in “correcting the perfect face”. What do we mean???

We are “correcting to the perfect face”That would be making the face oval, round,elongated, removing and adding a couple of lines, eyes in almond shape, bright eyes, quiet eyes, projecting edge of the brow, coral lips, coarse lips, and sticking beard and mustache to our clean shaved actors (We assure you ..they look very handsome)

I thought make-up is easy - applying foundation, strokes of colors, eye-pencil, lip color and making hair white. On the job, I realized its not the same as applying make-up to a friend. The play plot, the actors and the face – all combined and set to emote the audience. Nitya's knowledge and experiences, the techniques, is helping us to create a character or make corrections. To transform Navjyoti as Mahamatya, Harish as Pratosh…. demands experience. Keerthi is making corrections to Rajiv's handsome face to sculpt the king Okkak and his dilemma and Sunder as the Warrior General. Nitya will create stereotypical submissive queen into a bold woman Sheelvati of the 20th century who accepts her sexuality and blatantly copes with it outside the marital relations.

Here is the expected age the actors should look on stage … it challenging???
Sheelvati (early 30s)
Okkak (later 30s)
Pratosh (later 30s)
Mahamatya (in 60s)
Raj Purohit (late 50s)
Mahabaladhikrit (late 50s)
Mahattarika (early 30s)
Pratihari (early 20s)

Finding the perfect foundation, color lighters, mustache, lip color....on our task list arduous task for someone who has never bought make up for anyone else!!! Will keep you guys posted on our accomplishments..interested??? join us for the next make up session.