2-Ness-09 (Apr – Jun)




This Edition Includes:

Welcome to Two-Ness our Second Quaterly Update between April – June 2009

  • Quaterly Show Update
  • From a Diary
  • Nostalgic Fluids
  • YT in News
  • Workshop Corner
  • YT Experiments
  • YT Testimonials 

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We transition into the second quarter; a quarter when YT punchline “Life Unscripted” evolved.  A quarter where we lost our dear friend and member Manu.  A quarter when the YTAC movement began at YT.

This was also the quarter for the birth of two new directors within the group Sumit and Karan.

Feel free to share your feedback with us and we would be more than happy to read your thoughts.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 1-Ness YT contest

Caption Contest Winners
Arvind KS
Rajashekar
Neeta

Complete the Story Contest Winners
Varsha Hegde
H
etal Hariya
Nishtha Sabharwal

  

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Shows in the IInd Quarter (April 09 – June 09)

18th April – Wake Up India at St.Josephs ( arts and commerce) Auditorium:
Two shows done “in association with Jago Re” 3:00 pm show and 7:00 pm show

24th May – Teacher Day Out at GVS School
One show done in Kannada specifically for the teachers of Govt School to induce innovation into teaching

30th May – Life @ Campus at St. Johns Medical College:
A show for 300 Nurses of St. Johns Medical College tracing their lifes transforming from student life to Nurses

7th June – Play by Two at Visthar:
A series of 3 short sketches done in the picturesque Visthar

28th June – Common Man at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore:
The 7th show of Common Man.

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“We re-lived our moments, the program was fantastic and a great eye opener for the teachers, the event was on how to make teaching more activity-based and this theatre performance gave us great insights.  The performance was just wonderful” : Ms. Usha, Headmistress, GVS School 

 “I feel that the show was `technically awesome’.  To Comment on the ending of the
show, I observed that it was paradoxical. I see that the Common Man
is inspired by social responsibilities. ” : Amandeep, Convenor of the IISC Dramatic Club 

At the Jaago Re! One Billion Vote movement we where looking at arts and expressions to reach out to a larger and wider audience. It was then that we met with the pioneering theater group Yours Truly, who came forward and adopted the campaign in a series of their play titled ‘Wake Up India’. The performances were interactive, witty and motivating, and people walked away with the message of engaging in participatory democracy. The inspiring performances where part of our get-out-the-vote campaign, which moved and motivated the people to participate in the campaign. This only reinforces the belief that acts and expression are a key building block in a vibrant civil society. We are obliged to Yours Truly as they continue to create, inspire and celebrate this change in social paradigm. Their continuing efforts to work with civil society and for society at large, is for sure a first step in awakening India….” : Vijay, Jaago Re Team on “Wake Up India” show

“The show was quite enriching, and students could retrospect their own life, gave them insight into their past which made them think of the present and set forward for a better future” : Ms. Britto, Principal, St. Johns Medical College (Nursing ) 

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Chapter Four: Yours Truly Theatre and Bruce Lee

Begin with nothing…….. One of Yours Truly’s mantras in Improv and in Jeet Kune Do too.

In this chapter let me take you through the amazing similarities between YT’s way of working on Improv and Bruce Lee’s JKD (Jeet Kune Do).

In JKD, a fighter is free to choose any principle he wants and so does an Improv actor at YT, who are free to choose any principle during performance.

Jeet Kune Do (JKD) is the name Bruce Lee gave to his combat system and philosophy in 1967.

Bruce Lee stated that his concept is not an “adding to” of more and more things on top of each other to form a system, but rather, a winnowing out. The metaphor Lee borrowed from Chan Buddhism was of constantly filling a cup with water, and then emptying it, used for describing Lee’s philosophy of “casting off what is useless”. He also used the sculptor’s mentality of beginning with a lump of clay and hacking away at the “unessentials”; the end result was what he considered to be the bare combat essentials, or JKD.

PRINCIPILES OF JKD and YT IMPROV

One of the theories of JKD is that a fighter should do whatever is necessary to defend himself, regardless of where the techniques come from.
So is an Improv actor at YT, who is free to choose any principle. An actor when on stage needs to create regardless of where the techniques come from.  What is important for an Improv actor is creation.

Be like water: Lee often used water as an analogy for describing why mental flexibility is a desired trait in martial arts
So true when you look at Improv, where an actor needs to be taking as many forms and shapes through perspectives, patterns, thoughts, imagination, composition work, even when using multiple formats in Improv.  Being agile and letting the mind and body take shape of wherever it moves.

Using no way as way.Don’t have preconceived notions about anything. This statement is embedded in the Jeet Kune Do logo. It was also used by Bruce Lee often to describe JKD.
In Improv, how often have we as actors used no way as a way, where we begin to start putting things into place with pure nothing-ness. When we create patterns, it has no pre-defined state in our mind we create it out of nothing in mind, it’s the purest form of spontaneity, where patterns emerges out of nothing-ness from us.

Be in the moment: This is actually a Zen or Chán maxim which means to “be in the moment” and not be distracted by your own thought process.
Very often, what often hinders an actor is, actor themselves.  Being in the moment is meditative.  Being in the moment also helps an actor have a clean and empty before and after.  In-fact playback theatre in totality is about “being in the moment”

The 3 principle are also closer to the meditative states.

Fighting, acting, and meditating – Are the 3 different from each other or are they similar?

So the next time you are acting, could it be that you are also meditating ?

Writer: Ranji David

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Group Review: Volunteers on Call (Jaago Re Campaign)
Date: April 20th, 2009
The link:http://yourstrulytheatre.multiply.com/photos/album/200#photo=14
Media: Deccan Chronicle, Newspaper, Bangalore 

Individual Feature: Passionate Performer – Ranji David
Date: May 26th, 2009
The Link: http://yourstrulytheatre.multiply.com/photos/album/200#photo=13
Media Name: Deccan Chronicle, News Paper, Bangalore Edition

 Group Review: Bringing Theatre Alive – Yours Truly Theatre
Date: March 03, 2009
The Link: http://yourstrulytheatre.multiply.com/photos/album/200#photo=15 
Media Name: Deccan Chronicle, News Paper, Bangalore Edition

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 Breaking a VADA With Vishal
(Vishal, a YT editor gets interactive with the long time YT members Sumit and Karan over a Vada)

 Vishal: This second quarter of 2009 saw Yours Truly reaching out to various Campuses at Bangalore through the ‘Life @ CAMPUS’ initiative. What does this mean for the group and theatre in the long run?
Karan:
The initial idea behind YTAC was two-fold: (1) to introduce today’s youth to theatre and to the benefits that practicing theatre has on ones personality and (2) to generate interest in youth community.  In the long run, I see one campus show every Saturday of the year and the opportunity to play many roles on stage and beyond stage. Also, the opportunity to be a part of a more diverse team than before. This would lead to a quicker rate of development within the group and a more defined picture of the types of theatre we practice.
Sumit: Every concept/idea needs re-innovation from time to time. I beileve “Theatre” as an idea needs it because in plain words, it is dying. We dont find many theatre Go-ers or lovers. Our effort is not to bring back people to watch plays or theatre but to let them know what theatre can do in their lives. YTAC  intiative is a way of making theatre as passion for young guns in the colleges.  After performing in so many colleges, we have seen that theatre especially Improv theatre act as a good healing ointment which can neither be sold nor anyone can buy. It is the experience which can be only felt. Our colleges do have lots of talent and energies which need some sort of motivation, hopefully YTAC should be able to tap and chanelize that.  One of the success stories of YTAC initiative is inception of IISC Rangmanch.

Vishal: You were part of the playback show at Govt. School JBN for teachers. The audience was mostly a Kannada speaking lot. Exactly how did you guys manage to enthrall the crowd and make the show a success with the cast of actors not understanding a word in Kannada?
Karan:
I think that, in the answer to this question, lays the essence of theatre. Theatre is not only about standing in a dramatic pose and delivering a long soliloquy, or about smart exchanges of wit-ridden repartee. Theatre is also about using ones body and ones face to convey a more visual message, or a more complete message. It was this aspect that helped us communicate with the audience even though we did not share a common language.
Sumit: Earlier, I had performed for few NGOs where audience was Kannada speaking as well and shows were huge hit. These situations give an opportunity to expand your limit and use expressions, mime, hands and whole body to protray what you want to  depict in front of audience. Also, great team work creates magic that we saw on that day in the school. We had 1-2 guys speaking kannada in team and everyone was following the story and adding to the performances. There are lots of things that can be done apart from delivering dialogues. It is just the energy and passion to perform that matters and not the language any more.

Vishal: Having been for an extensive time with YT, according to you what are the reasons for the group’s Success ?
 Karan:
Yours Truly Theatre stands out for a number of reasons. For starters, where else would one find a theatre group where the two leading guides not only work at full-time jobs, but devote every free moment of theirs for a group of folks who may or may not share their vision of theatre. This passion and commitment for the stage and everything theatre possessed by Ranji and Nandini is the foundation, the rock-solid foundation, on which the rest of Yours Truly Theatre is built.
 Other aspects that stand Yours Truly Theatre apart from most groups is our willingness to experiment with types of plays, methods of working and our emphasis on the importance of improvisation. Our willingness and, in fact, eagerness to move away from convention. Our core value that everybody is equal – there are no stars.
And lastly, the commitment shown by the people who have stuck on with Yours Truly Theatre after their respective workshops – a number which seems to be rising with every subsequent workshop. Their passion for theatre and wackiness combined with the learning atmosphere in Yours Truly Theatre gives that additional edge to whatever we do.
Sumit: I am part of YT since Aug 2005 and I first came to know about Improv theatre in YT only. For the past 4 years, I have seen so many new concepts, experimental stuffs coming out of YT. Its major strength is “Dare to experiment” and take that experimentation into the public with pride. CTS (Complete the story ) is the brain child of YT and it is well known fact that Common Man (based on CTS Style) is travelling places. In YT, all committed, enthusiastic actors/musicians are given equal importance irrespective of how long is your association with YT. The human touch is another powerful attribution of YT.  Any group’s strength is its people. Having said that, it becomes challenging to chanalize the energies and resources that any group has. YT is a great example of creating lots of opportunities for actors.  YT has touched so many hearts by shocking and surprising the audience through experimental theatre. I believe this is an environment where a learner and committed person will only grow. I am confident that few years down the line, YT will stand for change in theatre in India. I would call it as “YT Revolution”.

Vishal: Your show at the St. John Nursing Institution was a triumph. What kind of preparation do you undergo before an Improvisation show?
Karan:
Thank you. One reason why that particular show went well was because the actors all ensured that the key components of improvisation were present. They are:
1. Trust in the team (actors, volunteers, musicians, and conductor);
2. Communication;
3. The ability *and* the willingness to allow the show and the team’s performance to overshadow ones own performance.
Everything else that follows comes about as a result of investing into the above components – which is what preparation for Improv shows is all about. The team works together in numerous rehearsals and builds an innate understanding that allows us to cue effectively, communicate instantly and inconspicuously and strive forward efficiently. With this understanding comes trust in one another and, with this trust, comes that wide-angle viewpoint.
One of the biggest traps of improvised performances is this tendency to either forge ahead leading all the time or stay back and follow all the time. A mature improv actor is one who identifies when to lead and when to follow. This aspect forms one of the core background activities of preparation for a playback show.
Sumit: Before a show, I make sure my costumes are ready, I have shaved properly and etc (just joking). Generally, I prefer to not to think about the show. Most of the times, before landing on the stage, we start doing some warmups. I believe in the energy and always try to perform with more than 100% energy. Whatever type of audience we have, I try to perform with utmost energy I have so that I can entertain the crowd. As soon as I go on to the stage, I just try to cut off myself from outerworld and listen carefully what audience says.

Vishal: Karan, how was it conducting the Improv show at IISc, Bangalore? Sumit, what are your thoughts on that show?
Karan:
The IISc show was my fifth Improv show as a conductor – and one of the more challenging audiences to conduct for. The students of the institute were a well-knit group and did not have many inhibitions in sharing their reactions – the challenge being that one had to regulate the bursts of inputs in a manner which the audience did not find offensive and which still provided the actors with enough information to improvise upon. Overall, the actors did a splendid job for the show in question and it was their performances that made the show so memorable.
SUMIT: That show was part of YTAC intiative. It was a huge success, we promised them to bring Commom Man to IISC. Crowd just loved the concept and enjoyed the performances. The success of the show was the inception of IISC Rangmanch. Just after our show, IISC started their own theatre group called as Rangmanch. I heard that they have performed their first play for IISC freshers recently. It is amazing to realize that this initiative is really working and will make a difference in other colleges the way it has happened in IISC.

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Update on our workshop for this quarter

 Beyond Stage:  An internal workshop for all the YT members.  The workshop focused on every aspect of theatre work outside the stage, which includes backstage, front office, ushering, green room etiquette.  The workshop was run by the F1 team of YT. [click here to read more]

 Play by 2: ( review by Chetan, a play by 2 workshop participant )
i have to confess
i have forgotten the meaning of distress
i am addicted to this craziness…
my heart craves for more silliness,happiness,and yours trulyness
………[click here to read more]
 
Vishal: ‘Play by two’ a workshop performance was your first directorial debut. How is directing different from acting?
Karan: When I received the opportunity to direct a piece, I was fortunate to work with a team that was eager to get out on stage and showcase their talents. I tried to work with a format where the elements of every scene are built by the entire team (and not just the director) – and, fortunately for me, the team I was part of deeply explored a variety of aspects that were built into visual scene elements. There are a lot of minute differences between directing and acting; for example:
1. An actor is on stage and the moments of reckoning are in an actor’s control. A director is involved pre-show in setting up the framework, but has to sit out at the crucial moments when the play is being enacted;
2. There is a big gap in the leader-follower ratio. For a scripted play to go smoothly, an actor has to be more of a follower with moments of leading (via suggestions to the director) whereas a director is primarily leading (even in cases where the director follows actor suggestions, the final decision is in the hands of the director);
3. As an actor, my scope is often limited to just my character: how this character reacts, speaks, moves. As a director, I have to step back and look at every scene from every angle: how does the interplay between the characters pan out, what are the mechanics of the various entries and exits, where and how would the best use of props be, spacing of the actors on stage and a lot of other, minute, details. As the director, my primary responsibility is to make things as simple as possible for the actors so that when the play is performed, the actors only have to concentrate on performing.
Sumit: When we are potraying a particular character as an actor, we are just focused on that character and on our own part. While directing, you have to consider every character in the story as if you were going to play all of them and then give them life and convey to your cast. While directing “Yomo” story, I sticked to basics of body theatre, patterns, transitions, narrative style. When I started directing this one, I didnt know from where to start and how to proceed but few games and excercies broke the ice between me and my actors. It is very necessary to make your self an approachable person while directing. Every actor should feel comfortable and it is director’s job to build that trust with the actors. As a director sometimes, you have to think ahead of the scene but as an actor you are totally focused on a particular scene. Director’s Hat is a magical but yet tough one to wear. Director needs to understand the resources quickly and should utilize the actor’s ability to the fullest or atleast create the opportunity for actor’s talent to shine in the play. The whole “Yomo” story was ready in 4 hrs and it was a great team work.
 
Vishal: What according to you was the purpose behind having the ‘Backstage performance’ Workshop at Vistar?
Karan: I am guessing you’re referring to the ‘Beyond Stage’ workshop. We all know that a stage show culminates in a live performance that is appreciated and applauded by an audience. What we are often not aware of is all the work that goes into the production before it actually is performed on stage; and all the work that follows a performance. A performance can only truly be a success if all these aspects of theatre are given due attention.  The purpose of the workshop was to; firstly, educate each other on the various such activities that need to be carried out and to highlight the importance of each activity. The workshop was an education for everybody present as, even amongst the presenters, a lot of us were not aware of the modalities behind certain activities. I personally learned a lot from that session and even had the opportunity to pass on some of my learning on specific elements from beyond the stage.
Sumit: The purpose was simple to let our YT team know that how much hard work does it take to make a show successful. To make people aware that volunteering work is as significant as being on the stage. In so many theatre groups, people have to do 1-2 years of backstage work before they actually start performing. But, in YT we try to create equal opportunities for everyone but at the same time we can’t ignore the quality part of any show. Backbone of the show is backstage team. The idea was to educate people that backstage job is very important and how it can affect the show in totality. We wanted to give a structure to backstage work and let our whole YT gang know about it. The result is we are implementing it and its going on very smooth and have improved the quality of shows and volunteers involvment as well.

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Vishal: Yours Truly Theatre hosted a workshop on Contemporary Dance and Body Motions. Who was the faculty involved and how has this experiment helped you in theatre?
Karan:
We had an actual contemporary dancer (by the name of Veena) conduct this workshop for us. My first thoughts on this workshop was that I would be taught to dance – and I was busy trying to make my second left foot pretend that it belongs on my right leg. When the workshop began, however, I realised that all my preconceived notions of what the workshop would achieve were far from accurate.  The workshop focussed on efficient usage of the body in various positions, motions and activities. Complicated movements could be carried out in a simple and efficient manner which were easy to remember and, barring sometimes, painless to carry out. One of the biggest positives of this workshop was that it showed me ways in which body positions and body movements can translate into effective body theatre. Especially when combining with another actor.
SUMIT:  I got to learn various aspects that can be induced in the character. We learned different ways of pulling, pushing and same we can apply in our character potrayal. Sometimes we dont need dialogues to convery something, just our body movements can convey a lot with powerful expressions. For example, even getting up and drinking a glass of water can be artistic. Even, this can be protrayed beautifully using dance and body movements. May be some day, would like to direct a play that have stroy narrated using dance and body theatre along with music. I used body movements while directing “Yomo” story.
 
 Vishal: I see a lot of team work and learning within the Yours Truly members Group. How does the group discover new theatre skills collectively?
Karan: From my viewpoint, it all depends on opening our minds to new possibilities. That is always the first step and a step that I think most members of Yours Truly Theatre have already taken. Once you have a group of eager folks wanting to learn, the actual learning part of it is a very teeny aspect.
  SUMIT Our core strength is improvization. We love to do improve performances and thats the way new ideas/concepts keep on getting evolved. We always believe in adding to what our co-actor has done. Same funda we apply to off-stage activities as well. So, while brain-storming sessions or even in a improv situations, we try to work collectively and result is evident.

  

 

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Responses

  1. Good interview and some really points are mentioned by Karan and Sumit

  2. Parallels of Bruce Lee’s JKD (Jeet Kune Do) and improv acting are strikingly similar. Begin with nothing has become my new mantra!!!

  3. I think if we take JKD one step further, then anything we do , if we have full focus and we are totally in that moment, it means we are meditating.

  4. This is brilliantly compiled. I read it from top to bottom without a break . Who ever has done it , great work .

  5. Exceptional is the word…!

  6. Great job guys….I read it thoroughly…waiting for 3ness now 🙂

  7. Specially the comments by Ranji on “PRINCIPILES OF JKD and YT IMPROV” are simply superb..It really give me connection between what I was doing at YT and what I am doing now (soul searching, in ture sense)..infact, after experiencing both(Theatre and meditation), I believe, one must have to work as rightly pointed out by Ranji, to find success and more importantly satisfaction in life.
    Cheers Yt

  8. 🙂 lovely….!!!!! very well written

  9. “Fighting, acting, and meditating – Are the 3 different from each other or are they similar?”

    Truly these are three different things but for being on top of any of the format, one common thing is needed which is concentration. After reading Ranji’s PRINCIPILES OF JKD and YT IMPROV now I am able to co-relate various things with acting.

  10. Testimonials are very inspiring to keep contributing using theatre !! Way to go !!!!!!!!!!


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