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STAGE

Theatrecian got them killed. With laughter! All 300 people at The Comedy Store auditorium in Mumbai on New Year, when along with Deborshi Barart and other Theatrecian actors, ‘chef’ Dhruv Mookerji plated up The Comedy Kitchen.

The Comedy Kitchen is a set of 10 short plays that have already been performed in Calcutta and Delhi. Some are original pieces written by Dhruv, while most are adapted from short plays and British television sketches into Indian contexts.

The range covers the intelligent, wacky, absurd, slapstick, physical, silent and tongue-in-cheek — there’s something for everyone. Actors double and triple; the stage design is simple.

After London and Manchester, The Comedy Store has come laughing all the way to India — Mumbai. One of its kind in India, the store is a restobar located at High Street Phoenix (formerly Phoenix Mills) in Lower Parel. It comes with a bar, diner and cafe so you can enjoy your nibble and sip in the audit while watching a show.

At the end of the show, team Theatrecian got a standing ovation. It’s the first theatre group from Calcutta to perform at The Comedy Store Mumbai. Two days later, Theatrecian celebrated its 12th birthday, with 70 productions in its repertoire.

The Mumbai Zoo goes to Goa

Nightlife is to Goa what bullets are to Kashmir. That’s the kind of typecasting that J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah talked of dispelling, in his opening speech at the Third Goa Art and Literary Festival, which had Kashmir as the theme.

Goa governor B.V. Wanchoo echoed Abdullah in his speech, stressing the need for cultural exchanges to help erase misconceptions about a state’s identity.

“To many, Goa is all about drugs and beach. I wanted to change that perception. And that is why I thought of the Goa Art and Literary Festival,” said Nandini Sahai, director of the International Centre Goa (ICG) and the force behind the festival.

Since this December festival is meant to be a platform for “local” talents as well, Goan writers and artists like Damodar Mauzo, Vishnu Surya Wagh, Wendell Rodricks, Mridula Garg and Eunice De Souza were visible alongside the likes of Jatin Das, Jerry Pinto, Jeet Thayil, Amish and Amruta Patil. Amruta’s second graphic novel, Adi Parva, was released at the festival, while Amish decoded the formula behind the success of his bestsellers. Baadshah Paather, a play based on Shakespeare’s King Lear directed by M.K. Raina, proved once again that language needn’t be a barrier. It was performed by actors from Kashmir, in the Kashmiri language. Lou Majaw, the veteran musician from Shillong, was easily the star at the festival. I was a privileged delegate at the festival. I’m glad I was able to let my hair down (whatever is left) sipping Diet Coke in the shacks of Baga at night and during the day, performing before the gathering at ICG.

Theatrecian’s The Mumbai Zoo was scheduled for a single performance but on “popular demand”, especially from the likes of Lou Majaw, I had no qualms doing it twice. It’s a monologue where I play two characters at the same time. It’s also my tribute of sorts to Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. This play was also performed at the Prithvi Theatre.

That’s Your Line Anyway was an instant hit. Dhruv Mookerji, Deborshi Barat and I had already experimented with the concept earlier in Calcutta. Here I didn’t have my friends to face the bouncers. At the Azad Maidan, located in Panjim market overlooking the river Mandovi, the audience was challenged to think of a line that would stop me in my tracks.

What I gathered from this festival is that Goa has a lot more to offer than cheap liquor and adrenaline-charged nightlife.