Theatrical passion spins romantic comedy

Ratna Venkat – Rakesh Chaurasia-Ratna Venkat

Prayas Theatre Company (established in 2005) is well-known in the Auckland arts scene for a number of reasons, three of which are noteworthy.

One – the passion of its members for quality theatre production; two- their presentation of thought-provoking satires; and three- the commitment of its members to creating and re-creating new and old plays in theatre.

Prayas (‘Try’ in Hindi) is ‘trying’ something new this time by presenting its first full-length comedy.

Titled ‘Love N Stuff,’ the play opened on June 23 and will run until Sunday, July 3 at The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC), located at 100 Motions Road in Western Springs.

Other Show timings can be viewed on the TAPAC website (http://www.tapac.org.nz/).

Written by Tanika Gupta, ‘Love N Stuff’ was a sell-out performance in 2013. The show plays a return season at Stratford East in London at the same time as its Auckland premiere for Prayas.

Debutante Director

The play is also a special occasion for debutante director Sananda (Sandy) Chatterjee, who has been associated with Prayas since its inception.

Speaking to Indian Newslink, she explained her illustrious journey from her childhood interest in performing arts, her early days as an usher with the company to finally ‘calling the shots’ for ‘Love N Stuff.’

“I have been involved in theatre and performing arts since I was two years old, and my initial training in the Indian classical dance style of Bharata Natyam has given me an early exposure to theatre and the art of story-telling,” Sandy said.

A native of Kolkata, Sandy was raised in New Delhi and migrated to Auckland with her family about 13 years ago.

Foyer to Stage

After ushering for a couple of seasons for Prayas, she progressed to become an Assistant Director, Wardrobe and Stage Manager in 2007 and later became Head of Community Theatre Project in 2008.

Sandy credits her growth and transition from Assistant to Creative Director to her mentor Amit Ohdedar for whom she co-wrote ‘Khoj (The Search’), along with Amit and Poorna Prakash in 2009.

Discovering her flair as a playwright, Sandy wrote short stories for ‘Thali – a theatrical platter of short plays’ as a part of the Auckland Fringe Festival (2013) and Agaram Productions’ ‘Mumbai Monologues’ as a part of the Auckland Pride Festival (2014).

Her first venture in directing was noticed in the short play ‘The Possethsion,’ part of ‘Short + Sweet Festival’ in 2014, which instilled in her the knack of comedy.

Thereafter, Sandy directed ‘Will’s Dramaturg’ (Short + Sweet Festival 2015), and was an assistant director for ‘The Journey’ and the critically acclaimed ‘A Fine Balance,’ both in 2015.

‘Love N Stuff,’ therefore marks Sandy’s stint as a full-length solo Director.

Passion for Theatre

Theatrical passion- Group WebThough Sandy is a Commercial Research Analyst at an Auckland Company, it is the sheer love for theatre and passion for story-telling that brings her and her team together. Comprising 14 actors and a live band, ‘Love N Stuff,’ set at Auckland International Airport, is a story of love, attachment and what is meant by home, all presented in a very light-hearted manner.

“Love, by all means, is a major part of any relationship, but that is only one part. The rest is all stuff that deals with a couple’s emotions or sentiments,” Sandy said.

The Play centres on the main characters of Bindi, a doctor and a Hindu, and Mansoor, an engineer and a Muslim.

Life’s drama

They reside in Sandringham where they are regarded as the most popular couple in their street. However, after 35 years of marriage, Mansoor suddenly decides to opt out of their relationship.

The drama then unfolds at Auckland Airport’s Departure lounge where his flight is delayed, giving Bindi the time to launch her battle strategy with a box of bhajjis and a bunch of memories.

Sandy said that the whole family will enjoy the play.

“Some actors have been life-long members of Prayas and some are fairly new to theatre, and since the latest play is a comedy, you can expect interactions between them during our practices, which would be filled with laughter!”

Touch of comedy

Theatrical passion-Sandy Chatterjee Web“Prayas till now, has been known to present hard-hitting stories with a touch of comedy. However, we are very excited that ‘Love N Stuff’ will be our first full-fledged comedy. The language will also be easy to understand for theatre-goers, presented in everyday conversational English,” Sandy said.

As tastes of people are constantly changing, art forms such as music, dance and theatre have to keep reinventing themselves to sustain the strong interests for new generations of theatre-goers.

Prayas has the advantage of having its own live band, with an eclectic mix of Indian and Western instrumentation such as Tabla, Flute, Saxophone and Piano.

Creating the right atmosphere live on stage can be challenging for the musicians as they have to play forming the show’s foreground and background music.

“Everything is far more exciting when it is performed live, right from the actors to the musicians, and we are hopeful that this will excite the audience too,” Sandy said.

What: Love N Stuff
Who: Director Sananda Chatterjee (Prayas Theatre Company)
Where: The Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC),

100 Motions Road, Western Springs

When: Until Sunday, July 3
Tickets: $25 (Concession); $30 (General)

(Booking fees apply)

Booking: www.tapac.org.nz
Contact: Sananda Chatterjee

Email: sananda@prayas.co.nz

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