By HARISH MONGA DIDO
The day I realized that I am a first-rate actor.
Having no background of acting in the family, I don’t know as to how the art of acting developed in me during my tenure in City Beautiful – Chandigarh that I could stage more than 15 plays at Tagore Theatre and few at Shimla and Ambala.
Acting in the theater is more difficult than in the film industry where the retakes and mixture are possible before the same is released to the theaters for the viewers.
In theatre, you have to be very conscious and attentive as sometimes the script is out of mind and the actor has to fill up the gap with his spontaneous decisions, either to make addition in the script befitting to the situation or some promoting has to be made from behind the curtain to give you a cue so that the live show may go on. But in the later case, there are more chances of hooting from the audience. In this case too, if none is available with the script in hand at the backend, the situation becomes more awkward. So proper cramming of the script is more important in the theater of each character to give the signal to the other actor.
There are a number of incidents in theater experience in my mind and if penned down, it would become a book form and helpful to the theater lovers to bring more grace to the plays.
Frankly speaking, an actor’s job is to know the breadth of human possibility and the depths of his or own possibilities to surprise the audience by giving his best performance as if everything is happening actually. Otherwise, the actor becomes boring and predictable. One of the secrets of the staging of play successfully is that in theater, when there is some odd figure, which is relevant with the dialogue could not be remembered or forgotten, the same used to be written on the floor of the stage.
An incident of my performance play is extra memorable when the female character of the cast selected met with an accident. Though the role of raping her by someone by the road side character was without any dialogue there was a need of female actor on the stage and none could be ready or rehearsed to give a live performance on the stage of a rape scene, at a short notice.
The actor who was to perform the rape scene offered to bring his wife for the scene. While the scene, which was hardly of thirty seconds on the stage, was being performed, without any inhibition with his wife when someone from the audience stood up and stepped up the stage, slapped on him so harshly on his performance of rape scene which looked like original one. It is still a mystery to me, as to whether the director has made it a part of the play to convey a message to the society or it was the reaction from the audience.
But that day, he told me, Dear Dido, today I have realized that I am a high-quality actor which has promoted the someone from the audience to come on the stage, to the rescue of a lady, even during the live performance going on the stage.
Another such incident, which I could never forget is that in one of the plays ‘Pehli Tareekh’ which moves around the conversation between husband and wife over certain issues. One day when the wife is fed up from the day today stereotype working as a housewife, she says to her husband, “Janu, honestly speaking, I am fed up from your daily taunts despite making 9 chapattis daily for you – two in the morning, four for lunch and three for dinner and 270 in a month. I am doing all this for the last more than thirty years and so far I have cooked 97200. The situation became tense when she forget the figure of total chapattis cooked. Then someone from the Hall, who might be conversant with the theater working said, the exact figure is written on the floor of the stage.