Actors in India 3: Opening night and on to Mumbai
We opened in Gurgaon Tuesday night. Now there’s a sentence I never expected to write.
Gurgaon was just a place on the map of India, one of six cities where we would tour my play, Success. Now this suburb of Delhi is real to us.
They laughed. Their cell phones went off. They talked. They applauded. The woman who runs the place and introduced the performance told us the audience was really talking about the play afterwards. Those are good signs. I look for them. That happens when you write a play and are the main character in it and open it out of town, out of state, out of country, out of continent. I was tentative at the start but my colleagues buoyed me up and we finished well.
Gurgaon looks like a set from the last Star Trek film set down on a bare patch of ground with no infrastructure. Gleaming metal and glass with hovels and putt-putts (motorized rickshaws) clawing at it feet. Traffic is horrendous. We left there in hot wind and woke to rain back in Delhi.
Next day we go to Kamani auditorium to set up. Each venue provides us with the desk, chairs, rug and phone we need to do the play. We can set the stage, light it, set sound levels and a run a quick cue-to-cue in less than three hours. Deborah (Clifton, the actress) and Kriti (Pant, a local cast via Skype) set up the costumes. We’re getting better. It’s a big room (seats 500), but the acoustics are very good. We don’t want to use microphones. It goes well and we all are much surer and looser. Edward Morgan is doing double duty as director and actor. He did well on stage in Gurgaon, even though it was his first acting in quite a while. Deborah (she plays an Egyptian presidential candidate) made them believe she could save Egypt. Kriti was playing in her hometown, so to speak, and was luminous.
We woke yesterday to go to Mumbai, our next tour stop. Morgan, Sam (Kishline, stage manager) and I all had our suits delivered before breakfast. We were fitted for them at 11 a.m. the day before. We barely make the flight and fly over vast slums covered in blue tarps on the landing approach. Then we step off into tropical monsoon. This isn’t Delhi. I’m writing this in the Taj Hotel on the waterfront. It’s the one where the terrorists attacked in ’08 and killed many people. Obama was here in ’10 and now the security is very good. Below us is a great British arch, The Gateway of India. Beyond is the harbor and misty islands and the Indian Ocean. But it’s time to go to work.