Bard goes local


Bard goes local

Nothing is perfect and the world of live theatre is no exception. Actors since ages have taken the liberty with unsuspecting audience by forgetting lines, inventing lines, doing late-entries, early exits, tripping and falling, singing out-of-tune, singing  in tune but out-of-turn, wearing the wrong costumes, wearing the right costumes wrong and so on! I am reminded of a supper theatre show of  Hamlet — The Original Spoof, where actors and colleagues Karthik Kumar, Karthik Srinivasan  and I met our real match. We were three actors up against two seasoned opponents who went by the code name, ‘Wine and Cheese’(W&S) — with the prefix, “free”!

Round one — The audience walked in, and went straight to their ‘official beverage partner’ who was more enticing than an empty stage! Many first drinks followed while we waited in the wings to bounce back into the match.

Round two — The MC (Master-of-Ceremony) came, his task cut out to engage the audience and start the play. He first requested politely, then tried humour, used satire next and finally even threatened to close the bar but the audience already on a ‘higher’ platform refused to acknowledge the five feet, two inches MC with a two inch-long microphone! We couldn’t wait any longer. After all, we had done this play many times and how could we not get the audience involved?!

Round three — We went on stage like three musketeers faced with 30 members of the audience on chairs and 150 people at the bar!

We shouted, “Hamlet, the greatest piece ever written by the Bard himself” and surprise, there was a  standing ovation…from people standing near the bar! The few brave people who were sitting in the audience till now also stood up and made their way to the bar while others continued to stare.

We started out with introductions. No  reaction. We played the first scene. No reaction. The second scene. No reaction. 15 minutes into  the play and we were in danger of being booed out! Sigh! 16 minutes into our show,  a visibly upset Karthik Kumar (playing Hamlet) entered the stage and the background music announced his entry with the Rajnikant song, Mudalan Mudalan  from Muthu. And then a miracle happened!

Backbenchers rushed to the front, the bar saw an exodus, people started whistling and clapping! Surprised and encouraged, Karthik replaced a Shakespearean line with a Tamizh punch line — the crowd roared! We ran back stage and looked at each other and wondered what was happening. And we let out a collective Eureka. This audience needed a different lingo! Having tasted blood, we came back with a re-remixed language! Round four and five were unprecedented in the history of theatre.

Hamlet was delivered in Tamilugukannayalam — a mix of Tamil(which Karthik and Karthik Srinivasan knew), Telugu (which I knew), Malayalam and Kannada (which the audience seemed to know). All our English lines were ‘dubbed’ impromptu into Tamilugukannayalam scene to scene with punch lines and the audience roared with claps and cheers! And the rest, as they say is history! The show finally ended with a thumping, standing ovation with us having finally having beaten W&C with a bit of a help from The Boss.

As we took the bow and went backstage, people were heard saying...“That was really good fun! Oh,  my  God! How do you remember those lines word to word? It was perfect — how?”(of course all the above in Tamilugukannayalam)

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