What it is all about

Amol Gokhale
Friday, 1 September 2017

Kaumudi Walokar and Suraj Parasnis, directors and writers of Theatron’s new production So What!?, talk about their new mime play, challenges of managing a big team and the intriguing process of the play

An obese girl who is living life to the fullest suddenly develops a complex about her physical appearance and life changes for her. But then she realises that it’s a folly and things change around again. She conquerors her complex. That’s the premise of Theatron’s new play So What!?

The play, which runs for 30 minutes and has 40 artists on stage, has  a mime format with music playing in the background and creating a visual impact. 

So What!? will open to the public after it bagged awards for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Music, along with Second Best Silent play, at the fourth edition of Maunaantar 2017 held in Pune sometime back.  

“Kaumudi (Walokar) and I wanted to create something which would interest us. We had this concept in mind and kept improvising and working on the screenplay because the play has no dialogues,” says Suraj Parasnis, the co-writer and director of the play.

After the initial struggles, things improved when they found the protagonist, who plays an obese girl. “We had to adapt many things to the format of the play and the complex she has. So, several changes were made in the draft to suit the format of the play,” says Kaumudi, who is the co-writer and director of the play.

Talking about the unique format of the play which combines both physical and visual theatre, the 25-year old Parasnis says, “We also incorporated theatre games like frame game, relation game —  where we had combinations like one person living and the others non-living and so on. Except Kaumudi, all the actors make up the set. Using mime and drapes we have created locations like the room of the obese girl, a bus, an elevator, girl’s fashion studio, a merry-go-round and so on.” 

The music plays a vital role in the play as none of the actors talk. “Vikrant Pawar and Amogh Inamdar have created fantastic music along with Foley sound which uplifts the play,” adds Parasnis.

The 23-year-old Walokar, who plays the protagonist, says that her previous experience of doing a mime play helped her, but there were several challenges posed by the fat suit that she had to wear in So What!?

“Nishigandha Khaladkar has hand-stitched the fat suit for me. The challenge is that I do not want the audience to be distracted by the suit I am wearing but rather look at my face and what I am emoting. We want people to take her back as a character and not a person who is wearing a fat suit. It took me really long to find that one X-factor,” says the actress.

Putting together a team of 40 artists is no small task but both Parasnis and Walokar were in full praise for their team. “We got a tremendous response when we put a word out that we are starting a new production and would love to work with new people. So, having a 40-member cast was not really a part of the plan, but seeing their enthusiasm we decided to do a play with such a huge team,” Walokar says. 

“The bigger challenge was to have everyone on the same page. If not, the entire frame would be spoilt. The entire team has put in a brilliant effort,” adds Parasnis.
  
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Mime play So What!?, along with Theatron’s other production, Bhanvar — a solo-act play recently performed at the 17th International Youth Theatre Festival, Bulgaria, will be staged at Bharat Natya Mandir, on September 3, at 9.30 pm

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