what is your image?

in search of focus, for the past two months – i’ve been in my shell, hardly getting out. no public ‘appearances’. not too many phone calls. very few friendships. so much i’ve been thinking for myself – i need to catch up to that, this. a friend recently asked me to think of an image that obsesses my head to know where to go –

treading somewhere between my no ‘formal’ training and experimental know-how, whether it is the fierce urgency of now, like Aijas Ahmed said in 2008 and i heard in 2012, or like Sadanand Menon reiterated in the same 2008 Indian Theatre Forum seminar, Not the Drama it’s about asking the right question!

then about space, today they were two questions. one in the context of my voice, with Kalairaani. second, in the context of chai kadai with Siddharth who has just joined us. the consistency of how we use a space, much like a medium. doubting my strength. asking if i am asking the right questions. four years after the fierce urgency of now, only now learning the first steps of theatre, i stand sometimes so ‘foolishly’ dejected, come on… besides everything else i can talk about… it’s the turn of Mayan’s End of the World.

then, we tell stories for hope in a sense. but, when in theatre, writing, i should have at some point read Tagore, the giant who stands on an sentence like, ‘hope is the greatest human folly‘.

i am not tempted to draw the curtains and  sleep. instead, just feeling every minute a loss of time. now in basic understanding, i know this is part of my urban existence. just that it doesn’t still erase the fact that I feel like I am running out of time to speak.

this could be like kalai pointed out this morning, i speak from the base of my mouth, actually with a titled lower lip, and this is closer to the place where thoughts flow. maybe, that’s why i feel overwhelmed all through the day.

on not speaking, an important piece on the language of silence, The Artist is Present by Marina Abramović, Russia

everything about this reminds me of this frame in Rhapsody in August, Akira Kurosawa

this scene of silence between these two old women who have survived the bombing in nagasaki – this silence is what i hope to achieve with sisters. and then before this, questions – how do I want to do theatre? what is my body? what is my voice? what is my script? what is my understanding of the politics of performance? where does the backstage me come in? what scripts am i going to write for this play? what ways do i wish to affect my audience? who is my audience? – and this is just the share of the personal. what then do others part of this question?

here, on voice there are two videos I would like to share to bring this small note to a close.

Odin Teatret, Denmark. Vocal Training. Video Archives. (Eugenio Barba 1972)

Ulay and Marina Abramović, Yugoslavia . ‘AAA AAA’. (1978)

my images – voice | space | now | never. reminds me of the earlier an idea. a box



sunset sisters.

sat to organize notes on theatre & performance. much needed now, if i want to work on longer rehearsal processes. some study time alone. some collating. some referencing.

for about a month or so, i hope i’ll be able to archive as much as possible here. organized like now. shifting house in between this.

an early rehearsal photo of sunset sisters by sudharshan. – love it.

blabber phase #02

i think blabber phases shall become a regular feature on this blog. i’d probably even dedicate a space for it on the top bar, once i have blabbered enough. 

from the last post one possibility: what if all friends and acquaintances land up one day to teach me the important lesson of keeping in touch? see that doesn’t excite. as much as the high moralistic result of that story, placed on a protagonist such as me – so reclusive, so forgetful, so choosy about phone calls or emails or dinners and lunches – might appeal universally on a sentimental level, as probably a sunday afternoon film on star movies, i don’t see it going any further than that. however, i do comprehend writers of sunday afternoon films on star movies do earn in numbers i can’t even talk about. 

nevertheless, making that life-changing story impossible, because i am just stubborn to change that about me, i have to move on. that means more blah blah blah. the problem with real life characters is that people stereotype and i haven’t really studied psychology or psychoanalysis that much, even in terms of theatre, to fuck an audience up mentally by playing around with how they relate to stereotypes. and maybe, that is for a later date, something i can’t really be ambitious about right now. note written, kept, if someone else does work that handles this i should scrap book it so i can create a delusion of how i am still very interested and curious about this. but in fact i am interested. i just don’t see myself doing anything concrete anytime soon. so for now the morale will be low. note saved for later. 

ingi has been sitting right next to me for the last post and as I am typing this one. one of her eyes are open. she sometimes sleeps like that, just to keep a watch on me. when i am alone i can get very stupid. maybe, not work. maybe, drink too much coffee. maybe, switch on the tv. maybe, flip from here focus on something else other than writing, because then I wouldn’t have to feel so bad about myself. apparently writer’s block is one of the most common topics written about in the online world. not surprised. but, i have to come to a conclusion writer’s block is basically this – you want to say something, you just don’t know what it is, and you can’t really believe you can have something to say to this world. and you have already crystallized the forms in which you need what you want to say to come out even without figuring what the fuck is actually in your head and hence the silent evenings on the terrace convincing yourself that you have this metaphysical mental block towards writing. i think it’s a little pointless in hovering about this imaginary block of wood, instead of just getting down to the physical act of it and then desperately hoping maybe now, maybe in seven years time, you will manage to crack what you want to say to the world. 


what do you want to say to the world sam? ha. non fiction is so much easier way to say that you know. ah just shut up will you, say it or i’ll chop your head off. 

recently, i came to the solution that the prison (as much as believe the current college) as an institution is pointless. why? okay, i was supposed to wait till i put this together as an “essay” for chai kadai, but you know what i don’t think i’ll be pouring any of the bullshit in my head in any form, if i don’t forget about forms

ingi over the years has actually acquired many human behaviourisms, or actually our behaviorisms. she is sleeping now and she is twitching her legs like me, lying on her side as she was just a smaller replica of baba, and almost snoring like sudha. 

so forgetting forms. forgotten. last month’s note in puck bulletin by pushkar raj got me thinking about the state of prisons in india. the koodankulam struggle, the arrest of soni sori, and free speech being jailed day after day in this country, got me thinking about what is this whole point of arresting and detaining and what the State uses it for. i actively started thinking about this only a couple of months ago, after many people i knew by name or face were either harassed by police or arrested for being part of protests for a more dignified life, whether in Koodankulam, Kodungaiyur, Kalpakkam, Manipur, Tibet, or Chattisgarh. 

the prison industrial complex debate has been brought to front by activists part of the critical resistance in the past few years (in America). the brown v plata was a decision taken by US Supreme Court last year mandating California to reduce their prison populations by 30,000 (137.5%). now, california government’s solution for this is to shift tens of thousands of prisoners from the state to the county level, therefore opening the doors for funds that will help them expand their county jails. critical resistance has been fighting for a long time to dismantle one of the planet’s largest prison systems which constantly attacks the state’s poor, working class and communities of color. more information is available in long research reports by these human rights organizations, and with quoting them specifically i should be able to elucidate this further. 

however, quite a bit of overload on lectures by prof. angela davis, prof. ruth wilson, and prof. john smith. wondering about the origin of why we think its okay to punish and on why the prison (and its related atrocities like death penalty) on a governmental (universal) level is marketed as the best institutional possibility of correcting a society. so instead of focusing on prison reform here should we rather be looking for prison abolition, an alternative to prisons. and will that not be a more humanitarian protest? wondering only. not throwing accusations. why have we misconceived punishment (positive and negative enforcements) as a method of instruction, as one of ‘structural equilibria of society’?

last night, rahul and i talked about how it is so tough focus while researching. with so information available to us, and so much not available to us (which we can get to only if we have finished plodding through what is already there) there is so much to know, so much to ask, and so much more to know about. every day. the personal ethics of meticulous workaholic researchers like so many others i know. no personal ethics at all and we are still developing it. see our colleges didn’t really demand any kind of academic inquiry into our subjects. so other than personal motives to dig and delve through history, there wasn’t really any external need to be academic. now the only thing college wanted out of us was attendance in boring lectures, which was essentially teachers dictating notes, we writing it down, and hall tickets, pink slips, blue slips, and yellow. 

but coming back to storytelling and whatever it is that i do, i really don’t know where to go. i read all these short stories last week, you know in between reading up on the all the laws and acts and debates relating to prisons. thought of adapting. i love the idea of adaptations. adapting julius caesar convinced me i could spend time in theatre. but i don’t know actually adaptation. adapt what? nothing seems to excite me. slump. 

what fight do i fight to be sure of what i want to be vocal about on stage, in life or anywhere? and do i see it as even a possibility for me to recreate this anger in the mode of storytelling? it is the magical realism of toni morrison, gabriel garcia marquez, folk tales,  george melies that excites me. that is what i want. 

… okay for a few minutes there i went off to Facebook. sorry. digression. anyway, there bernard bate had put up a link to this amazing discovery of a black hole devouring a star in the centre of a galaxy 2.7 billion years away. now there is one in the centre of the milky way too, “our” galaxy. and i think a spectacular dinner scene is what my play shall be. a hungry bloody black hole in the middle of a galaxy in the middle of no where, trying to choose from its menu a small snack, and maybe let’s throw in there an orbiting planet filled with delusional living beings. now the executional possibilities of this could cause yet another slump, but for now, this is what we can work on. 


# cast

# time (one ten minute play and 53 minute play)

# budget

# deadlines (23rd May and 31st July)


Sudha says ‘This is you saying you cannot focus, in good language’. At least he thinks it’s good language. :)

sometimes the word process, the act of being in a process consumes me. it procrastinates my means to any end. to find something, stick to it – look into it – is by itself a process to me. it is to bite into an apple all the way to its bitter, grainy seed, wondering where all my teeth and my tongue have been, where all these molecules have come from. once a man who came to speak at my school, or this is a scene from something  i dreamt up, told us something about atoms.

atoms are everywhere. they are always moving around. my daughter is now 2000 miles away from me. but i am inhaling her. we are all in each other.

as a kid a lot of what he said remained spooky. then what he said sounded like don juan’s voice. now it’s my head bustling around.

where ever i am, whatever i am doing, whatever my means, whatever the possible ends, there are fractals of distraction; a microscopic fungal growth that spreads – a million more questions every second.

have you ever wondered if a pineapple would like itself if it was turned inside out? when a mind wavers like that, my only concrete thing to puzzle everything in to is story. that’s why storytelling amazes me. i am not great at it yet, but this short journey of playing around with theatre, film, writing, myself has been great great fun. however, today, we are sitting a day late for one of things we were supposed to sign up for. quite fed up of being busy. but still desperately wanting to be busy. ideas caught inside our head. nothing amazing us too much. small talk. the weather out is reallllly nice. we should go to the beach. even all of that said in love. we are bored.

let’s eat and watch a movie we decide. choose a movie i say, to get some time to write all this that’s in my head. secretly hoping, maybe a play will pop in to my head. then i’ll know what to do with it.


continuity, building up a vocabulary and method with largely the same group of actors after a number of productions, leads to work of experiment and improvisation of a sophisticated kind

said Peter Hall.

in story of a process i wrote differently. somehow my mind was shut down to his words. it still is. some times i find myself defending myself in front of this apparition. the same group is quite an impossibility. some times even boring. maybe, no play of mine could be perfect in a sense. because, the performance for me is one part of the process. the performance the presentation is bound to get better. it’s the entire process my heart is at.


but i am re-reading these words of his i have jotted in down in a notebook. staring at it, in fact. it definitely will be so wonderful to have a group we can stick with, to mull over things with, to throw things at each other, but does that group necessarily need to be the actors? does acting alone make theatre?

maybe, yes.

maybe, no.

still at my first step.

trying to figure out.

so bleah!

but wait let me just finish the Peter Hall quote. it is after all only those lines mentioned above that i am reluctant to digest.


everybody involved can readily acknowledge that the work is picking up where they left off. but in english theatre [any theatre], even at a highly subsidized organization like the RNT, it is most often the case that the director is starting each production with an ad hoc group of actors, a diverse and nervous group who, preforce, must be turned quickly into a company … breakthroughs of trust and courage occur amidst an atmosphere of mutual respect and good humour.


off to sleep.


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reverse order

my kitchen smells like a pig sty. i am scared of maggots again. i haven’t really gotten much work done today. that is because the television is a bitch. addictive fucking bitch.

phew. that feels good.

i’ve always restrained my language in blogs. don’t know why.

what does writing mean to me? no one really, actually ever asked me that question. some people actually think it’s as simple as a biological action. the majority of the world voluntarily shit for money and i write. when i say, i’m writing give me a few minutes, many a times i’ve defended replies: oh! it’s only writing. unless and until someone actually wants something written, there’s not much acknowledgement. or maybe, becoming a bestselling author are the ways out. i’ve never really pushed myself to get published. i think i am still experimenting with it. it’s not like i am not ready to put it out in to the world. if that was my fear, i wouldn’t have a blog.

i’ve never been great with set rules. that’s half the reason i thought whatever happens i will write all in small caps here for how ever long that i can stand it. grammar. that’s what i actually want to talk about. it is what makes a language. it is this same thing that has to be denied, broken, mixed and thrown around in order to understand the language. of course, old appendages stay – know the rules and then break them. i’ve never probably been too great at highlighting with precision present continuous. but a rhythm of a language, the memory of when i learnt certain words, it’s flow in comparison and adjacent to the other languages i know: these help me through.

form. this i actually find difficult to decide. the non-linear fascinates me. the few words or the many words, all the same, just strewn about, nevertheless in perfect equilibrium, almost in a cosmic connection. it should be okay to write phrases, half words, made-up words. probably why i like wordpress or ommwriter for that matter; they don’t really decorate all of it in red and green all the time. not unless i choose to. microsoft word doesn’t even like passive voice. what am i writing, science experiments? apparently, passive might be okay for science too. certainly, my school teachers didn’t think so.

what in form? free-writing. that’s my type of form. it goes, it stops, it flows, it ebbs, it plummets, it shivers, all on its own accord. sometimes, after many days there are words everywhere – blogs, emails, notebooks, walls, napkins, cigarette boxes, bus tickets… this might one day become a poem, a short story, a novel if at this time these are the only forms everyone understands. or i’ll decide to wait it out and see if anyone picks up the asymmetrical forms i create and maybe bellow it out to the world.

then again benjamin frankin had said: ‘either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’ this could actually murder every ounce of confidence i have when i sit down to write. but, benjamin franklin was still seven degrees away from creating who i am right now. i take what he says. i chew it. i don’t disregard it. i don’t shun it. i just hear ping pong.

probably some perfect time to read outsider art. (thanks to aarti).

shall be back after the reading. and maybe one more tea.

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things to do or no agendas



nuclear fission, chain reactions, anti-nuclear plant movements.


art out there

ai weiwei, writing, painting, an idea. an object


meetings and plans

anti-nuclear protest: dec 15, evening meeting, making plans, what can I do? [images in head: gas masks and survival nap sacks]


no agendas

drop everything. read. smile. go. do.


Thoughts stream about. I think it’s both good to have plans and to have no agendas. Can’t really decide. Why do humans plan?

Ai Weiwei:

I can see the consequences. I just do things without thinking about the before and the after.

back to reading: ‘Nuclear Power is Deathly’.

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