Wordsmiths as Actors

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” thus spoke Jacques in Act 2, Scene 7 [As You like it].

 I recall fumbling through my lines as Jacques years back, and the audience gushing over my histrionics; their naïveté confusing the butterfly- dance in my stomach with acting!

Theatre had gripped me right from school, and I wrote and directed many skits in Hindi and English. Later, our theatre group, Navankur, staged many plays, to thunderous applause. I was audacious enough to translate Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap into Hindi, making our quaking students jump headlong into the theatrical maelstrom, little knowing that their debut performances would take our breaths away!
 I later translated my novella, The Mystery of the Relic, into Hindi, staging it before an appreciative audience, as Meri Kahaani Sunogey?

Recently, I had the good fortune of being a small part of a spectacularly enriching on- line rehearsed reading of King Lear by India Poetry Circle’s IPC PLAYERS. IPC Players’ Macbeth was a resounding success in 2021. This year’s performance of King Lear, in association with the Shakespeare Society of India, was equally successful.
The following wordsmiths- actors wrote a new chapter in Shakespearean theatre, through their single-minded commitment and long- hours of rehearsals.

 Santosh Bakaya, as Doctor, and Lalit Magazine as Servant and Herald, were eleventh-hour entrants, rehearsing for less than a month. The others rehearsed for more than eight months, allowing no technical glitches, thunder, lightning, or rain to dampen their spirits.

Result: A scintillating attempt at recreating the Bard’s classic on an online platform, which floored those who watched it live on zoom on 15 December 2022.

Director and King Lear: Jairam Seshadri

Goneril: Sumitra Kumar

Regan: Urna Bose

Cordelia: Shashi Kothari

Earl of Gloucester: Paul Mathew

Earl of Kent: Anju Kishore
Edmund: Cathy Syldo Wilkes

Edgar: Sumita Dutta Shoam

Duke of Cornwall: Subha Bhardwaj

Duke of Albany: Gita Bharath

Fool and King of France: Geethanjali Dilip

Messenger: Aparna Suresh

Oswald: Kanupriya Iyer

Stage Manager: Vidya Shankar

Let me mention, that all the actors are award-winning wordsmiths, with many books to their credit.

Jairam Seshadri, the founder of IPC, who has authored Mantra Yoga [Rupa, 2021] Woof songs and the Eternal Self- Saboteur [Partridge, 2019], Jesus Sahasrnam-the 1008 names of Jesus Christ [AuthorsPress. 2018], enacted the role of King Lear with a rare finesse, enthralling everyone with his tone, diction, and dialogue delivery.  In the last scene, when he enters with the body of Cordelia, lamenting her death, not an eye among the audience was dry;

“Howl, howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones:

 She's gone forever!”

He excelled in this debut foray of directing a full-fledged Shakespearean play.

Anju Kishore who scintillated as Kent in King Lear, and as Macbeth in Macbeth last year, is an award-winning writer, poet, and editor, recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her haibunDrumbeats by Triveni Haikai, India. As KentShe impressed with her expressive energy, sense of timing, and diction; her lines sparkling through every emotion.

Paul Mathew, an actor since 1968, also an actor-trainer and playwright, enacted the role of Gloucester with amazing panache. For him, it was indeed fascinating to rediscover and demystify the bard through this play. His poetry book, SPIRIT LAKES and Other Poems: An Actor’s Journey, is a riveting read.
Gita Bharath, who charmed the audience as Duke of Albany is an award-winning writer, with six published volumes of poetry, devoting herself full-time to writing and blogging after her retirement from a thirty-four-year-old bank career.

 Subha Bhardwaj, a versatile writer, and member of Indian Poetry Circle having many publications in IPC, Chennai Poetry Circle, Haiku universe, and Literary Vibes, was malevolence incarnate as Lear’s son-in-law, Cornwall, evoking repugnance about the villainous character.

Aparna Suresh is an award-winning poet, writer, academic, editor, and translator, with many published works. Speck of a Soul [2019] was her first published anthology. She excelled in the small, but important role of the messenger. 

Geethanjali Dilip, The brain behind Yercaud Poetry Festival says that she ‘converses with her soul in soliloquies echoing in her poetry, which mirror the truths and beauty of life,’ played the Fool with great aplomb. As she spoke and sang, all those endearing quirks of the fool bubbled effervescently. She also performed the role of the Duke of France with finesse.

Urna Bose, Recipient of the prestigious Nissim International Prize for Poetry, 2021, poet and editor, right now editing TSL Humour Anthology, What’s the Fuss? was the very personification of evil, while enacting the role of Reagan, the evil sister, the scorching fury in her eyes, so palpable.

Founder of Adisakrit, a publishing house, Sumita Dutt Shoam’s debut novel, The Heart of Donna Rai, has been well-acclaimed. As Edgar, her nuanced acting, powerful rendition, impassioned intensity, and creative innovation provided a virtual feast for the senses.

Sumitra Kumar is a passionate poet and blogger, whose debut poetry book Romance with Breath [April 2022], portrayed the evil sister Goneril’s wicked machinations, jealous treachery, and aggressive ambition with flawless acumen. 

Shashi Kothari, a bilingual writer, with 7 poetry books- 6 in Hindi, and one in English, enacted the role of Cordelia, bringing out her pure, compassionate nature, impeccably.
Poet, and short- story writer, Cathy Sydlo Wilkes, figures in various international anthologies, and is the recipient of the Nissim Prize [Second, 2022] in Poetry, and has authored two books, Facets: a collection of uncommon poetry and Fowl Play: Commotion at the chicken yard and other nontraditional Animal Stories.
She took Edmund’s role to new heights with her deft manipulation of voice and excellent emoting, leaving the audience spellbound.

The young, talented author, poet, and actor, Kanupriya Iyer has authored two novels, Humsuffers and The Family Lockdown. As Oswald, she enchanted everyone with impressive dialogue delivery, her sword-wielding laced with a fiery ferocity.

Vidya Shankar, a well-known, awarded poet, excelled as the Stage Manager, tackling technical glitches\soundbytes, and filling in for the actors who suddenly disappeared from the scene due to connectivity problems.  

Let me conclude with a few lines from Paul Mathew’s poem, which he wrote immediately after the success of the play:

‘The glitches and heartbreaks
The generosity of fellow actors
The surprising performances
Far beyond the rehearsals
The bonding and the joy
of having climbed a formidable peak together.’

Some more of Paul Mathew’s lines from The Actor and Space [Dream Poetry: Restore Space, AuthorsPress, 2022]

‘the magic
 of the actor’s body
weaving space into an illusion
that a hundred others share.

the sacred relationship between
man and space.’

Well, my belief in magic was reaffirmed when I saw wordsmiths donning the mantle of actors, ‘climbing a formidable peak together’, providing a sensory delight for those who watched.

1 comment :

  1. An extraordinary experience, beautifully captured. The article is a bouquet of applause and an energizer to do more and more. Enjoyed the read and the remarkable pictures.


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