Thursday, June 28, 2012

What is the next big thing?

When I pose this question to myself, one moment the answer is an endless list of things but when I give it another thought it trickles down to nothing at all. So varied is the response to this question in my head and after much deliberation according to me the next big thing could be just about anything. It’s just about getting it right at the right place and the right time.

The next big thing is to move ahead of our times and get over a credit based economy. It has left half the globe in debt and we clearly don’t know how to face the worst impact of credit gone wrong. It is a new way of doing commerce.

It is the end of currency exchange. It is the death of a transaction and of interest. The next big thing is Gross Happiness Product not Gross Domestic Product. It is to engage and not transact. To share and celebrate. To give and not expect.

The next big thing is to be selfless.

It is the birth of Social Entrepreneurship. Of doing well by doing good. Of reusing and recycling. It is to look through people’s mind. It is to get the right balance between wealth and welfare. It is to jump over the wall of materialistic pleasures and look deep within for the purpose of our being.

The next big thing is erasing boundaries and tearing off passports. Of giving the best experience to anyone anywhere anytime. And working towards achieving this.

The next big thing is to break out of the monotony. To think differently and think consciously. It is to cross that thin line between work and play. To scrap off ‘9 to 5’ and nurture creativity and innovation, floating of free spirits and limitless thought.

The next big thing is noetics.

To make sense out of superstition, to marry logic and intuition. And then make deductions to learn and understand. To quantify thoughts, sense our society's pulse and reflect on the innermost feelings it generates.

The next big thing is to keep it simple.

It is to love. Plain simple love. It is to keep relationships clean. It is about aesthetics and fresh smiles. Clear direction and focus.

The next big thing is to travel.

To explore and win hearts. To read between the lines. To meet people and dive into cultures, to get them at the centre of what we do – customers, employees, yourself, everyone. It is to organise one big party to which everyone’s invited to live happily ever after!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Korea - Midsummer Night's Dream

Take off

This was my first Globe To Globe play. And also my first experience of being a groundling. During my hour-long wait which included standing in a queue, sitting on a bench and then standing at 'my spot' in the Globe's yard in front of the stage, I learnt a few rules about being a groundling.

Groundling Rules

- If you ever buy a groundling ticket to watch a play at the Globe come prepared to bear nature in all its glory and fury!

- Do report one hour in advance to ensure you get a good spot from where you can get the best view of the stage and the actors - 'my spot' was in the second row of groundlings in the centre.

- Do not carry heavy baggage as you would not want to trudge along the night with a baby elephant on your back!

- The baggage rules are a bit inconsistent. The staff may request for a bag-check or ask you to keep your bag in the cloak room depending on their...let's say mood! So if you do end up coming in advance to reserve a spot, you may end up being very cross if you were asked to get out of line for a bag check or were sent to the cloak room to drop of your bag. By the time you return there will be ten more people between you and your initial pole position. But it may not be like this if the person behind you is an old kind lady who offers to take the effort to walk through the queue to find you and reinstate you at your original place - just like she did for me! God bless her!

- The groundling tickets are the cheapest - £5 (exactly the same price they were 500 years ago in Elizabethan times - 1 pence x inflation index)

- Socialise with your fellow groundlings. You will be surprised how like-minded our lot is. By the end of the 11 plays I could recognise regular faces who came to see every show or most shows (like me). I had my own small Globe-to-Globe peer group which included a Professor and a Ph.D pursuant.

First impressions

I had been to the Globe once before on a complimentary show of the Twelfth Night performed by some students of Rutgers University something from U.S.A. somewhere. It was a memorable experience as it saw my school-hood-dream come true. But it was a rather rushed evening for me and my friend because as usual I was late and she had to wait for me at the gate! Once inside we swapped between standing and sitting and tried to get accustomed to this new style of theatre-watching.

The second time was just a few days before this performance when I came for a press visit for the Globe's exhibition and theatre tour. The 20-minute theatre tour gave me a sneak peek of a pre-performance rehearsal of Richard III in Mandarin! The lead actor was stellar, we had prime centre seats on the top-deck and were lucky to see the cast rehearse the coronation scene.

But this time I was alone, excited and on time! Sigh...

Standing there with a blank space in my head I was not sure what to expect. I was there to see a play in a language I did not understand. My colleagues at work thought I had gone a bit overboard by spending my money on 11 tickets to plays in languages as alien to me as chalk is to cheese. I geared up all my sensory organs to enable me to grasp as much as I could from the kinesthetics taking place on stage. Retrospectively, having seen 11 plays I realized each country had it's own style. It's own flavour, music, interaction, use of space, dramatization techniques, story telling characteristics, and costumes. The only common strand was Shakespeare.

Korea  landing

The side-screens lit-up and the announcement flickered across the screen in neon red - 'Welcome to the Globe. Please switch off your mobile phones and cameras'. These side screens acted like translators with the synopsis of each scene flashing throughout the play to help non-speakers and non-Shakespearers understand the act better.

And then the magic started.

It was in the middle of summer (almost) and the night was setting in. The dream had begun! The forest fairies entered and from that moment till the moment they left stage I was captivated by their charm.

Korean Style

The play was high on dramatisation and expressions.  Jute bags or gunny bags were slit open to make jackets for the fairies. The make-up accentuated every facial feature of the actors - a white wash with bright pink and blue rouge and fine designs in inky black helped magnify their every cringe and smile. Their hair was tied in a messy nest bun with strands of jute.

On the other hand the four main leads had bright solid coloured kimonos - yellow, blue, green and red

The music was set at the back of the stage and had almost all characters take charge at some point or the other. An array of exquisite musical instruments were on show - one of them recreated the sound of falling water (Rain-stick) while another was an ensemble of dangling metal rods of different sizes and emanated a twinkling chime when they were struck in one motion.

The play and its movements were extremely fluid-like. Just like a rapid going downstream. The ride had it's slow zones during the love infused acts, meandering it's way into our hearts and the next moment suddenly gaining pace again with its eclectic mix of song and dance. All the song and dance elements took the story forward.

Some stellar captivating scenes included the entry of the Doruki, the lost-in-the-jungle scene, the scenes where the magical potions are lifted and where the timid herb-collector is the target of the Doruki's mischeif. All beautifully portrayed by classic use of stage-space and action.

The audience interaction added that heart-warming feel to the play - we got house keeping instructions by a comical mime at the start of the show, received neon bands before the interval as freebies and a member of the audience even got tricked to come on stage and take one (after it was licked and handled in the most dégoutant ways); it was comical nonetheless.

It was evident that each person on stage was a superlative actor and dancer. They mostly moved on stage in a peculiar fashion - turning their feet in towards their bodies then turning them out again. Doing this quickly to slide across the stage.

The theatrics of colour, expressions and native music was also accompanied by the sound of recorded bird-songs and artificial smoke which almost left me hallucinating. The music still rings in my ears when I go to dream at night.


When the break took place. I was left awe-struck by what I had seen. By the time the play ended, an even stronger sense of surprise an awe lurked in the air as it was magnified by how everyone present there felt. They had a grand exit, wading through us groundlings and out into the foyer to incessant noise from the clapping, hooting and cheering. It felt ecstatic...The performance enthused me with such energy that even after an eight hour day at work and three hours of standing on my feet I was not feeling tired at all. To infuse this energy is a magical quality that the act possessed. They actually created positive energy and passed it onto us with their act; that in itself speaks volumes about the quality of their skill. In the end, like a star-struck fan I requested on of the actors for a group photo in the foyer where they were kindly obliging chirpy home-bound viewers. As I walked over the Millenium bridge to my tube station I was smiling inside my head - at how happy I felt. I felt like a different person.

For a change I saw a dream with my eyes open, and I can confirm that it was one of the best dreams I have had

You can now see the play yourself thanks to the Arts Council of England. To incept yourself with performances from the Globe to Globe festival click here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Globe to Globe Festival - Theatre through my eyes

Being a culture leech, I suck (or at least try to) every bit of information I possibly can about any hapennings around me related to the arts - painting, drama, music et al. No surprises there, that I know about the Globe to Globe (G2G) Festival taking place at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre near London's Bankside this British summer. G2G is a precursor to the heavyweight arriving in July-August-September called London2012 (the codeword for all things Olympic and Paralympic this year). It constitutes an important piece in the myriad kaleidoscopic Cultural Olympiad put together to raise our cheer quotient (C.Q.) before London2012 arrives in UK. Interestingly, the orignial Olympic games started as a series of art related contests; sport was added much later to the event schedule. Happy to know that the legacy continues and that we still take this festival to be a boiling caudron (melting pot is just so passé in our Potter-age) of culture. 

Having attended 11 shows (1 show in-spirit) I can confirm that G2G is a befitting cultural celebration from end April to the beginning of June. It deserves not five stars but many constellations (is there a collective noun for this collective noun?) for its sheer scale and titanic (FYI - Titanic celebrated it's sinking-centenary this year) proportion!

I was under the impression that the festival had many shows for each play. Luckily, on a press tour for Indian Compass in April I struck gold when I realized that only 2 to 3 shows of each production were scheduled (haw!). Having missed out on the Hindi production of the Twelfth Night due to my passiveness I was not at all ready to bear the pain of missing out on any upcoming shows that I wanted to see.

G2G is staging all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in 37 different languages - a great tagline to market the festival. But the obsessive geek that I also am I want to set the record straight. That count is discounting the fact that the festival started of with Isango Ensemble singing Venus and Adonis in IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SoSotho, Setswana, Afrikaans and South African English; if you take that into ac'count', the total goes up to 38 plays in 44 languages/dialects (counting Hip Hop and Music as distinct languages).

I devised a strategy to hand-pick shows which would tickle my senses and leave me greedy for more excellent theatre. This was done due to two main reasons - lack of funding to see all 38 plays and lack of time. Tickets ranged from £5 to £35 and there were afternoon and evening shows. 

My budget permitted only £5 groundling (standing and watching the show in the yard) tickets and most evening shows thanks to my full-time day job (yes, it clearly doesn't pay well enough to buy me £35 tickets nor does it allow 3 hour lunch breaks for me to watch afternoon shows!)

I visited the website and read through every play and glanced through every picture. From this content analysis I matched those plays which met all or at least two of my criteria -
1. Is there some element of folk music (including musical instruments)?
2. Are there immaculate costumes and accessories (masks, make-up and the works)?
3. Is it in a language that I can speak or could easily grasp (anything related to Marwari, Gujarati, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Assamese, Maori, Persian, English, Marathi, Bangla, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish)?
4. Do I already know the play?

This generated a list of 11 plays from the 38 on offer. I do feel a bit-blah that this mini-research was done after 7 plays were already over. Thus, it was more like selecting 11 from the remaning 31 shows. Add to this the fact that during my selection-process some shows were already fully-booked so even though the Chinese and Hip-Hop play passed my scrutiny-test, I could not make it for the shows due to lack of yard-space! More blah-ness to me...

But on the happy-ness, this was my G2G selection:
1. Midsummer Night's Dream in Korean
2. Julius Caesar in Italian
3. Cymbeline in Juba Arabic 
4. The Tempest in Bangla
5. Henry VI Part III in Macedonian
6. As You Like It in Georgian
7. Romeo and Juliet in Brazilian Portuguese
8. All's Well That Ends Well in Gujarati
9. Taming Of The Shrew in Urdu
10. Henry VIII in Castillian Spanish
11. Comedy of Errors in Dari Persian

A lot has been already spoken about about G2G and there are reviews gallore, and I hope to add onto that volume of words with my experience and observations of the festival.

This was the start to me teleporting this summer. With the tickets in place and passion for theatre filling my heart I set out to see the world from one end to the other, one stage to another - from Globe To Globe! Buckle up...

P.S. - Next blogbuster coming soon - Front row standing (re)view of Midsummer Night's Dream