Stage fright, what's that?

Published: Nov 19, 2013, 08:41 IST | Anjana Vaswani |

Fifteen theatre buffs gather at a SoBo coffee shop to stir Ira Lewis' Chinese Coffee, as part of Nouveau Art Play Reading, a new take on theatre in the city

An IT guy, a playwright, an artist and a banker walk into a coffee shop. Far from what you think, 15 of us including the four are seated at Colaba’s Belgian eatery, Le Pain Quotidien, and distribute printed copies of Ira Lewis’ Chinese Coffee. With that, another session of the Nouveau Art Play Reading Group commences; that is conceived for those who love theatre and wish to don a different persona through varied play readings. Braving jitters, each of us take turns playing Harry Levine or Jake Manheim, starving New York artists who were portrayed by veterans, Al Pacino and Jerry Orbach, in the movie adaptation.

Laughter, jitters and more — during a reading of Chinese Coffee. Pic/Bipin Kokate

We give the script the once-over and swallow our stage fright but there’s still the matter of dialect. “Language can pose a problem,” says Noel Gomes (33), as though he heard the thought. But, Gomes, who founded this group with three work colleagues (playwrights and copywriters) primarily sticks to English plays.

“We plan to read translations of Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi plays soon,” he says and shares how a reading of Tennessee Williams’ four-character play, The Glass Menagerie, compelled them to open the experience to others.

Today’s story is a great pick too. All give a shot to interpreting each character — what Noel and the group are here to appreciate. Noel stops a participant mid-dialogue to get a few key lines re-read by another. “The shuffle amplifies the drama and often introduces a different perspective,” he believes.

Once every fortnight, a section of the 149-strong group assembles at a decided venue to read “anything from William Shakespeare to Samuel Beckett,” he relates. Scheduled to be read on 1 December at Bungalow 9, Bandra, is Henrik Ibsen’s controversial three-act play, A Doll’s House. For a quick confidence boost, sign up.

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