When Noella Ferrao was in college, a teacher made a comment that stuck with her — that the younger generation don’t passionately believe in anything or aren’t willing to die for what they love. After swimming around in the corporate world for a year, she found something she’s willing to give up everything for — theatre.
Whether it’s acting, directing, scriptwriting or researching, Noella loves it all. “I realised in 2014 that theatre is something I’m willing to fight for. And I want the theatre scene to thrive in the city I’m living in. This is when I decided to take it up full time,” she says. With a rich resume that includes college plays, inter-collegiate festivals, short skits and improv sessions, she recently directed her first production at Mount Carmel College (MCC). Called ‘Medea’, the play is based on Euripides’ script of the same name. “It’s the story of a woman out for revenge because she has been wronged by her husband.”
Initially, she wanted to write her own script, but the story of Medea inspired her when she ran into it. “Medea found me, really! I was going through a horrible breakup at the time, and when I read ‘Medea’, I was comforted by the story. So I rewrote it — simplified the archaic language and made it more accessible.” But this doesn’t mean she’s looking out for revenge, she adds with a laugh. “It’s about a woman who is left with nothing and no one, with only herself and her intelligence. And she’s seeking closure, although in a more dramatic way. Every woman has her own way of finding closure. I can relate to it and I know it’s not just me — it speaks to women of all ages. ”
So, how did Noella find this closure? “I started living alone and doing the most mundane things like cooking and cleaning. And I found a purpose to life; I’m a stronger person now.”
What’s unique about her production is that it’s process oriented. “What I’ve found in Bengaluru is that people just decide to do a play one day, find a script, assign characters and have a run through with one month of intense rehearsals. But when you take a process-oriented route, you get to build the character over a period of time.” This play features the Dramatics Association members of MCC and the team began practicing even before they had a script in hand. “I’d do workshops with them, sensation and movement modules, and when we got the script, we worked on it slowly. Every actor plays multiple roles and at times, three to four girls play the same character.” The all-girls cast is another highlight of the play. “This way, we were able to break gender barriers,” adds Noella.
A theatre junkie, she mentions that inspiration comes from necessity. “When I started working on ‘Medea’, I needed it. It was something I wanted but also needed. It’s true of all plays — you learn something from them.”