Last show of Boy in Ranga Shankara

After seven sold out shows for the public and seven equally full school shows, the Boy with a Suitcase packed his case for the last time in 2011 yesterday at Ranga Shankara. The feedback from audiences has been incredible and overwhelming for all of us.

Thanks, Bangalore audience, you were amazing!


Boy opened in Ranga Shankara

Yesterday night "Boy with A suitcase" opened in Ranga Shankara to an enthusiastic audience. In my 11 years of watching Indian theatre and Indian audiences I have not seen such an applause with standing ovations, whistles and shouting. Wow. Three school shows ran prior to the opening to get used to the different stage and size of the auditorium. Schnawwl is an intimate space, the ceiling not being very high, where as Ranga Shankara is steep and large. We are happy. More shows, tiwce daily till 23rd.


short snippets of Boy on German Television



Today is the day - Opening of "Boy with a Suitcase" in Mannheim

After two mothsn of rehersals in Nrityagram and Mannheim, we are opening "Boy with a Suitcase" today at Schnawwl in Mannheim.

Read more about the play, the crew and the background in our online programme brochure here.
note - you might need to get used to the online reader, you can enlarge the text if needed:


press coverage

Some Bangalore press coverage form our rehearsal time Nrityagram.


last week of rehearsals

Mannheim is exploding with flowers and fresh greens leaves - spring is tranforming the city and our lives. While one day the Indian team asks for winter clothes in Evi's costume fundus, the next day Kirtana walks around in her pyjamas, because its has become so warm/hot she does not know what to wear. It must have been the first end of march bikini day in many years, but it was.

We have entered the last week of rehersals with the costumes and since today light design. Form tomorrow onwards, there will be some public rehearsals and a lot of fine tuning to be done.

Shrunga can read German from a newspaper now and it sounds like German. Pallavi is performing one scene in the play in German. The two of them are defenitely "Sprachgenies".

The poster is ready and plastered all over the city. 

We are almost good to go!


Moving - to Germany and towards the end of the play

We are settling into our new lives in Mannheim. For some of us it meant coming home, seeing their children and loved ones and for the rest of us it is another transit bed and space, but because we moved with the whole team, the transition is more a physical one. We freeze. We are wrappend in layers of clothes. We eat cheese and brown bread and pasta apart from Shrunga and Mustafa who have carried 7,2 kg of MTR ready made south Indian meals to Mannheim.

We have also reached the end of the play - at least the first round of blocking, after which a whole new round of fine tuning and revisiting will start.

This is how NAZs sister was developed yesterday. In the original script she is a brother, in our version the mother and sister are both played by Pallavi. The character is that of a refugee, whose parents have sent her to London in the hope that she can become a doctor and send money home. This utopia explodes for Naz as he finds her in a small room in London, wahsing cars for a living, barely surviving, having become bitter and cynical.

We again used the statue exercise to give her gestures, body positions and movements.

Pallavi's jetlag actually helped to find the exhausted look on her face.


the last days in Nrityagram

three days ago it suddenly became hot. afternoon rehearsals are a challenge now and if we would stay longer, we would need to introduce the concept of siesta to our day and sleep form 2 to 6 and work in the evenings. We are all a little exhausted from the four weeks of intense rehearsals, in the play we have reached the last quarter, the part where Naz and Krysia are on the boat crossing the sea. We have had two game nights - what fun. Everybody is getting really good at "Werewolve", only Shrunga gets killed every time - and me!


Guests of honour

Our singer and actress Pallavi had a concert in an amazing place sunday evening and took us along as her German guests. But boy, we were not prepared for this. The small village close to Bangalore is dominated by an organisation that feeds and educates 8000 (!) boys - homeless or poor. The Swamiji (holy man) who founded and runs the organisation is 104 years old. We watched the boys eating, met many of them and ended up on the stage with Pallavi. We had our glimpse of fame when we were being "falicitated" with shawls and flower garlands and Pallavi introuced each one of us to the crowd, all of them shouting our names. Andrea sang "Die Gedanken sind frei" (The thoughts are free, who can guess them, they fly past like nightly shadows, no human can know them, no hunter can shoot them, it remains like that: thoughts are free) for the crowd (wow!) and we went to have dinner, swimming through the crowds of children, many of them secretly touching out white skin. What a night!

Andrea: "Now I really feel we have made it to the other side of the world."

Simone: "I feel like Lady Di."


mornings and people leaving

The mornings at Nrityagram are very special. The nature awakes around 6 o'clock with birds and dogs and a massive energy, kicking us out of bed someitems even before the alam clock rings. Coordt greets the sun every morning

Our two wonderful costume designers, Amba and Evi have left today. Evi is flying back to Germany where she will start stitching the costumes at Schnawwl. We are curious, because the two went shopping for two days and discussed the design all through the night, but we did not even get a glimpse of the fabrics.
Amba is on her way back to Delhi and will join us at Schnawwl later in march. She has said some wise and true things about theatre and intercultural collaborations and she told us her mother had gone to Berliner Ensemble back in the days, where she had met Helene Weigel! Indo-German collaborations do have a long tradition, thanks for reminding us, Amba.


into the third week of rehearsals

After two and a half weeks, we have all settled into our "Big Brother" Paradise called Nrityagram. We eat, live, work together, with all the beauty and problems and frictions that come with it. A good example of two people having a heated artistic discussion, not being able to agree:

a. I feel like a rock.
b. and I am the water that flows around you.
a. but I want to be the water too!
b. what now, rock or water?

today, the rock and the water have found a very fruitful way of negotiationg their tempers and artistic visions. And the rock and the water sleep in the same small room, so there is absolutely no escape!

Our daily routine
Every morning we wake up at 6.30 and do one and a half hours of silent mediation, Surya Namaskars (sun salutaions), core work and biomechanics. Then we shower, eat huge amounts of fruits and at 9.30 am rehearsal starts with theatre and rythm games and then continuing with the play. We work till 1.30 pm with a short coffee break. At 2 pm we have a south Indian lunch, consisting of two vegetables, rice, dal (lentils) and curd. Then we rest a little in the afternoon heat, wash our clothes in a bucket, prepare the next rehearsal or learn text. We rehearse again from 4 pm to 8 pm. Then dinner is ready in our common area and we spend the evenings discussing, surfing the internet, eating, drinking the local wine. We go to bed between 10 pm and 12 pm.

We have a beautiful rehearsal space since monday, where the Odissi dancers ususally rehearse. On tuesday we had 50 children from Inventure Academy here, who are part of the cyber class project. They travelled two and a half hours from their school to see the first twenty minutes of "Boy with a Suitcase", meet the actors and the team and give us feedback. The kids were amazing and we were all quite happy, that the play seems to be going into the right direction and seems to connect to our future audience. Read comments of the super Grade 7 students here: Cyber class group 2
We announced an essay competition and got the first essay the very same evening! 7th graders, you rock!

finding the characters
A working method we have used to find the movements and gestures and facial expressions of the characters in the play, is the "statue"exercise. Especially for Nikolai, who has about 8 characters in the play with only a few lines for each, this method is very useful. We first read the scene and gather all the factual information that is given about the character. Then we discuss the character and interpret his/ her actions and motivations. Then the actor playing the charatcer is put on a platform and all the others can "form" him or her, move him into different statues, change his costume. Then the actor says what he liked and how he felt and starts moving around with the body position and gestures given to him.
Today we worked on Nikolai and the shephard. Have a look:


NAZ - two or one?

In the original script, the storyteller NAZ tells his story from the present and the same actor enacts the scenes of the story, as his younger self. In the German translation the older storyteller NAZ and the younger NAZ are divided into two actors. We have used this device so that the actor David, who plays the storyteller NAZ will be able to do tell the story in German in Germany and in English in India. The younger NAZ is played by Shrunga, who can use English and Hindi. Now we are working on  moments for the two actors who play one character in different times.


First week of rehearsal

The rehearsals for "Boy with a suitcase" have started on 15th febuary in a quiet and beautiful place called Nritygram - a village built for classical dancers in the 80s. The only dance form still praticed here is Odissi and a wonderful and amazing group of women rehearse here - an inspiration to every performer who has ever seen them.

We are all staying in the newly built "arts lab", a simple and sturdy building with 8 rooms that hosts two people each and and open kitchen and sitting area. The sounds of nature - crickets, birds and silence - accompany us through the day and it becomes hard to imagine that Bangalore is just an hour away.

We eat south Indian food twice a day and the Germans have gotten themselves fruits for breakfast - pineapple, papaya, chickoo and bananas all grow in the area.

Currently we are 16 people, 7 performers and musicians, two set designers, two costume designers, dramaturgs, assistants, all crawling out of bed at 6.30  in the morning to start the day with meditation, yoga, core work and biomechanics or - running through the fields beyond Nrityagram.

There is one thing that is valued by some of us with devotion - our wireless modem.
After and between rehearsals the virtual generation in hooked onto their electronic devices. But sometimes the modem does not work and despair sets in.

Another thing valued highly are the pickles that June has made, who lives here half of the year. Lemon, mango, tomato pickles, sour and salty and a happy maker for some of us.

We are getting into the play by reading and telling stories. Sindbads's stories that the main charatcer Naz refers to in the play and first person accounts of refugee children.

Stage designer Credi and Sridar work hard on the woden elements for the set - Credis design does not quite translate into the wood reality in India, so the wooden parts have to be strenghtend and covered with light cloth, which will be dirtied over the rehearsal period with the foot prints of red earth.

Today, we started with the actual text of the play...

More to come....


Cyber Class Project has begun!

In the Cyber Class Project, 3 school groups with students ageing 12 to 16 from Bangalore and Mannheim are e-mailing, blogging, skyping about theatre in general and the production of "Boy with a Suitcase". They will all meet the team from "Boy with a suitcase" in the rehearsal phase, watch the show in their respective cities and exchange opinions

Check it out and keep track: http://cyberclassayouththeatreblog.blogspot.com/


Rehearsals for "Boy with a Suitcase" starting soon..

As the last part and grande finale of the "Do I Know U?" theatre partnership, Schnawwl and Rangashankara are producing the play Boy with a Suitcase by British writer Mike Kenny as a joint production with an Indo-German cast. The production stars the Schnawwl actors Nikolai Jegorow, David Benito Garcia and Simone Oswald next to Pallavi MD and Shrunga BV from Bangalore. (see blog header for a photo of the actors).

The story is that of a 12 year old war refugee, who undertakes a long and dangerous journey to be with his sister in London. He carries with him only a small suitcase and a treasure of stories from his childhood.
Like his hero, Sinbad the Sailor, who went on many dangerous voyages in search of his fortune, Naz must travel half-way around the world to reach his sister in London. On the road, Naz meets Krysia, a young girl in similar circumstances, who helps him find safe passage over mountains, across seas and through the dangers of a city slum. With the help of Krysia and his stories, Naz finds his way to London and his sister. But is it the ‘heaven on earth’ that he expects?
A gripping narrative of adventure and stories, Naz’s journey also throws a spotlight on the real dangers faced by children who have to migrate alone today. You would imagine there’s not much room for laughter in this production but writer Mike Kenny has elevated this story with humour and spirit. 


Pallavi Arun is a "beautiful thinker"

Pallavi will be acting in the upcoming Schnawwl and Ranga Shankara's co-production of the English play "Boy with a Suitcase". But today she is a "beautiful thinker"
India Today - Beautiful Thinkers


The Song of Rama in Mannheim

Read more about Schnawwl's production of "The song of Rama" on the Wanderlust Blog
Achtung, it's in German: Wanderlust Blog