Jean Genet’s The Maids is a classic. While the film and Cate Blanchett’s stage show are amongst the best known for the mass audience, most English Literature and Drama students are familiar with it as part of their curriculum.
My dabbling with The Maids was recent. Recent as in our closing night was 9th Nov 2013. 5 shows, 4 days. HK Arts Centre.
My directorial debut and a dream come true. I achieved what I set out to. I learnt a lot, still lots more to learn but I am fulfilled with no regrets.
My love for theatre is not new. Nutured and developed through school and college. Stage is the medium that interests me the most and my medium for expression. I had always thought my future would be on or around the stage.
But when I wanted to study Drama and Theatre my mother said ‘what is the percentage of starving actors v/s starving bankers’.
An MBA was the guaranteed ticket into the plush offices of a ‘foreign’ bank. Bankers hadn’t acquired their Anti-Christ title as yet. At that time in India, being a Banker was the glorious outcome of successful parenting producing ambitious off-spring.
I refused to do the MBA and compromised to do a post graduation in Mass Communications instead.
Mass Communication proved to be fulfilling and the resulting jobs in Ad Agencies and Television, exciting.
But I grew restless. I needed drama. People call me DQ, drama queen. But that drama needs to be on a stage under spot lights with rows upon rows of a rapt audience.
While I am proud of my appearances on stage as an actor, my true love is directing. Maybe because I fundamentally like telling people what to do .
But to do justice to a piece is to consume it and for it to consume you. To be able to direct something is to know your material so well that it becomes your reality. You know every word, every pause and every emotional arc. You can not direct a play unless it lives inside you. Thats the only way you can be authentic.
With a job that was fast becoming a career I enjoyed and was proud of, directing over this, would be like holding down two full time jobs. No thank you.
Directing was a dream that was going to remain unfulfilled in this lifetime and I believed it.
And then, it happens, doesn’t it ? Life turns around and throws a curve ball. Catch it and call it an Opportunity or lose it to forever think ‘what if?’
And thats exactly what happened. Out of the blue someone I respected as an actor and as a performer called me. He wanted me to co-direct his venture and as it turned out the lead director was someone I considered a mentor.
A dream come true and yet doable because a co-director meant load shared, angst shared. It took me half a second to process this.
“Yes, yes definitely yes” I said. Deal signed, sealed, delivered when rather belatedly, I remembered the most important aspect for a director, the SCRIPT.
“What is the script ?” I asked, embarrassed at my failing as a deep thinking ‘director’.
It was Jean Genet’s The Maids. The Maids has a foreward written by none other than Jean Paul Sartre ! Oh why oh why couldn’t it be a simpler play ?
Luckily for me I was blessed with an incredible co-director, fantastic actors and an amazing production crew.
I am not about to put my career on the back burner for Amateur Dramatics but the ease of this project might seduce me into more directorial ventures.
It took as much out of me as my job does, but it wasn’t impossible 🙂 or so I think…..