The world as a stage

The world as a stage

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The world as a stage

This picture was taken in 1982 and has me and the members of the theatre troupe called ‘Spandana’. We took the picture soon after we had staged a play called ‘Barrister’ at Ravindra Kalakshetra. It got an overwhelming response from the audience.

 The group was headed by theatre person and actress B Jayashree who is a Rajya Sabha member now. She directed most of the plays and played the lead roles in some of them. We also had a few other popular actors such as Anant Nag, Shankar Nag, Avinash, Arundathi Nag and Satyasanda in the group.

Our plays were written and scripted around folklore and steeped in political, economic and social issues that affected the society at large. Most of the plays were written by eminent playwrights like Chandrashekhara Kambara and KV Subbanna.

My interest in theatre dates back to my school and college days. I did my schooling in Seventh Day Adventist School in Fraser Town and completed my college from Sri Jagadguru Renukacharya College of Science Arts and Commerce on Race Course Road. I chased my interest in theatre as a hobby when I started working with HMT Watches in 1979. I was a part of the theatre group in the company and won several prizes. It was then that my friends and colleagues suggested that I take to theatre on a more serious note. One of the first theatre groups that I joined was ‘Rangasampadha’ in 1979. I then worked with a few other groups before I joined ‘Spandana’.

I don’t recollect the names of everyone in the picture but we were all a close-knit group and bonded well, and I am still in touch with some of them. There were many who encouraged me. To start with, I held an immense amount of respect and admiration for B Jayashree. I consider her as my guru even to this day. Shankar Nag was another one of my closest friends. He was the one who drove away the inhibitions I had about pursuing a career in acting and gave me the confidence to become an actor. It is unfortunate that he is not with us anymore.

Arundathi Nag was always known for her determination which she exudes even to this day. My friend Avinash literally pushed me into a career in acting and Satyasanda would keep me company most of the time and taught me a lot of about acting and theatre as well.

Anant Nag is a great hero and I used to admire him for his spontaneity in acting and some of the emotions which he depicted made anything fictional appear real. You could see the emotions in his eyes. To this day, he continues to be a brilliant actor. I have learnt so much from every member of the group by just observing them. 

Another member of the group Naganath, also a regular mountaineer, would keep us entertained with his lively nature. He also passed away during one of his mountaineering expeditions. The play ‘Barrister’ was extremely successful and we staged it in several places in Bengaluru, Mysuru and even Mangaluru. We would get very little time to ourselves between the rehearsals and make-up before the play.

Jayashree was a disciplinarian and was strict about rehearsals. But whenever we did manage to get some time to ourselves, we would go sight-seeing if we were travelling or just laze around and talk a lot about a host of issues. 

We were all treated equally thanks to Shankar Nag. We would all talk freely and even pull each other’s legs. It is from this group that I learnt how to respect everyone’s talent and appreciate the amazing range of acting talent we have around us.

I learnt simplicity and humility from them and these are lessons for life which I have passed onto my sons — Prajwal and Pranam.
The author can be contacted at devaraj.r@live.com
R Devaraj (Actor)

(As told to Nina C George)

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