Tickets $20 $15 con. Book 5251 1998.
In the Middle of the Night One Night only at The Potato Shed Drysdale
Tickets $20 $15 con. Book 5251 1998.
Four characters take a body to the cremation ground. They lose it. They search the ground for it and when so doing, they discover a freshly made footprint – near where they placed the body.
In this scene, Tagore is describing and satirising Brahmin servants, and the incompetence of these high caste people to manage life and death situations and rituals that surround them. Each of these four characters has his own unique qualities – there is
· The leader
· The nervous one, who is tearful
· The always-shocked one, and
· The Happy-go-lucky one, who takes things as they come.
Because we are dramatizing the Tagore stories and bringing them to life, these people need to be imbued with physical characteristics that animate their individual qualities. I interpret them using the resources of my theatre training, especially from Jacques Lecoq, this includes mask, mime, movement and Comedia dell’Arte.
With mask, we work with the elements of earth, air, fire and water, materials (such as steel and wool) or animals to create strong physical characterisation.
With mime, we create space; and space is important because it locates where the drama is playing out.
With Comedia dell’Arte and clowning we bring passion and silliness to the scene. This brings conflict to its climax quickly and with humour. There is nothing subtle about this art-form.
Together these theatre skills enable me to disentangle these four characters and make this short scene clear and dynamic.
“The crickets under the trees were stitching a narrow border of sound along the robe of silence that had slipped down from the sky.”
From In the Middle of the Night. This is another example of Tagore’s beautiful use of language. Here the poet uses a visual image to describe the night silence, and the crickets efforts to break this silence. His use of the words ‘stitching a narrow border’ tells about the deepness of the silence, and that these creatures are only able to make jabs of sound which break it.
This is in sharp contrast to how I have experienced present day India – where the idea of silence being broken by crickets is unimaginable. It is such noisy place and very difficult to find any silence at all.
The second metaphor of this passage is an unusual one – the use of the robe to create an image of the night descending and enveloping the character’s world. Floating fabrics – such as silks and saris are very much part of the Indian character, however, the robe describes heaviness – and suggests closing in of the day and a sense of foreboding.
“Full blown bakul flowers floated down in ones and twos and shadowy moonlight shone through the gaps in the branches on her wasted face.”
In this passage, from In the Middle of the Night, I am describing the narrator observing his wife resting in the garden. She is very ill and dying. I love the description, it’s detail – ones and twos, not many flowers, or some. We get a sense of movement and light. This is Tagore’s gift as a poet - to evoke mood and emotions whilst describing nature.
As the performer, I am working now to make the words my own so I can share them with the audience and we can together see the imagery and feel the emotions that Tagore is expressing. It is about imbuing them with my imagination and experiences of nature, as they conjure up memories and images. This takes rehearsing and rehearsing, embodying the words and making them feel part of me.
I am currently in rehearsals for In the Middle of the Night and Other Stories – an adaption of ghost stories by Rabindranath Tagore, which I will perform at La Mama from 15 February 2013 as part of their summer season. Polash Larsen is the director.
In this blog I would be like to share some of the processes behind turning a piece of prose into a production for theatre, give you an insight into the rehearsal process as well as some information about Tagore – a beloved Indian poet, writer and philosopher. I am going to talk about the relevance of this work and author to the 21st century.
I hope you enjoy coming on this journey!
I am a performing artist. I work as an actor, director and theatre teacher. I love to take audiences on imaginary journeys which uplift, inspire and give insights into the world around us.