Taking drama to the next level

Updated: May 05, 2019, 07:59 IST | Anju Maskeri

The forces behind India's youngest theatre production on why they're taking English plays to smaller towns and cities

Taking drama to the next level

It's only been a few hours since actors Abhishek Pattnaik and Darsheel Safary have returned from Laxmangarh, a town in Sikar district of Rajasthan after performing their long-running English play, Two Adorable Losers. But there's no hint of tiredness. If anything, they seem energetic. "Each performance is proving to be more invigorating because the response to English plays in smaller towns is tremendous," says Pattnaik, who performed for students at an engineering institute.

After the act, the actors were greeted by a volley of questions about theatre and its soundness as a career. "We were hoping to elicit this sort of a response from the screening," he adds, optimistically. In fact, Out of the Box Production, which he founded along with writer Suketu Shah, earned the distinction of being the only theatre production to have performed for an audience size of 5K at Patna's Bapu Sabhaghar Auditorium, the second largest auditorium in Asia last year.

They might be the country's youngest professional theatre company, but they seem to have it figured. In the last eight years, the team has produced seven productions, including Can I Help You? (2016) and Last Over (2017). Their latest offering is Kaise Karenge, where Pattnaik essays the role of Kapil Parasrampuria, a young man with dissociative personality disorder. In the play, he seamlessly flits from a bumbling adman to a Lucknowi professor who speaks chaste Hindi to a loud Jaat called Sunny with a pronounced Hariyanavi accent.

It's the easy, heartwarming chemistry between Safary and Pattnaik coupled with crackling performances from the supporting cast that makes it a delightful experience. Safary concurs. "Because we spend much time travelling and rehearsing, we have become friends. The camaraderie is reflected in our performance too," says Safary. There are moments when he says they surprise each other on stage with impromptu improvisations. "He catches me off guard. It's fine as long as only he and I know. The audience shouldn't be able to catch it," he laughs.

In the last one year, the team has travelled to 20 towns and cities including Ajmer, Jodhpur, Ranikhet, Nainital, Kanpur, and Gwalior with their plays. What's interesting is that for the people in many of these towns, it's their first brush with an English play. "I think what has worked for us is the fact that we truly, deeply enjoy ourselves on stage. And that's half the job done," says Safary.

WHAT: Kaise Karenge
WHERE: Experimental Theatre, NCPA
WHEN: May 19, 4pm and 7.30pm
ENTRY: Rs 500 onwards
LOG ON: bookmyshow.com

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