Monday, July 18, 2011

Playing Payal

That's the name of the girl I play in My Mother Said I Never Should/Ma Bolechhe Korishna. Let me tell you something about this girl.
She was born in the mid '70s and became a young mother in the early '90s, when she was still in college. Many of you who read this blog belong to her times, have known girls like her. Young, eager to please, quick to rebel and ineffectively repentant.

Playing her is not easy because part of being Payal is not showing what is within. There are too many secrets she thinks only she can contain. Moreover, she is the only one who is never shown alone barring a quick minute with a howling baby. There is so much that she leaves outside the family that when she is with her mother, her grandmother, her own daughter, she becomes the person who reacts. The one time she does speak out, she is constantly catching herself up, trying to fit her narrative to her listener. It would be easy to make her the martyr but she's not that either.

My mother saw the play and said it was like re-living my teens (not the best part of her life). My father disliked it, for, I suspect, similar reasons! Others have praised it all: the acting, the music, lights, the script, everything.

You know, you all know how hard hard I have fought this role. I love it but it's scary for me for many personal reasons. The first couple of shows I continued to fight it -- and I could feel myself fighting it. The last two shows I finally walked into the pain. It showed. And it's taking an immense toll on me as old wounds open once more. Last night I cried like a baby behind the flats (backstage).

I know that's what theatre is all about. I've been here before. But it seems to me like it's never hurt so much before. For the first time in my life I have dropped all the metaphorical plates. On show days I stay in bed or do nothing much. I have been kind to myself these few months like I rarely am. If I cannot handle something, I let it be. That has meant the boys existing in a jumbled household that frequently runs out of food, laundry and groceries. Bills go missing. Blogposts never got written. Calls remained unmade. I'm not proud of any of it. But this, like all the good stuff, I wanted recorded here.

P. S.
Those of you who worry: there will be a happier post up next, I promise.


R's Mom said...

Loved the last line :)

I read the review...awesome..congrats :) and the best part, the proceeds go to a donation..wish I was in Calcutta this time of the year

Rohini said...


Sue said...

R's Mom -- I wish you were too! Would have been nice to put a face to the name at last!

Ro -- Thanks. Now send me a Spidey pic quick.

dipali said...

Sue, personal issues apart, good theatre demands so much of a performer- in order to convincingly become another person, one has to internalise so much of their history and personality- just having that other person jostling for space inside your head is hard. When a role is as demanding as Payal's, it certainly will be terribly draining.

Parul said...

You are lucky to have a creative outlet for such catharsis. I wish I could see the play. Have heard such wonderful things about it.

kaichu said...

I'm glad I was there for the last show, and even gladder that I brought my mum along. She loved it, and I think parts stirred up memories for her, although she's not telling. Typical :)

But Sunny, thanks for the performance. I didn't want to bug you or Shuki much after the show because there were so many others also wanting some time with you guys, but, just, thank you.

And something I felt I should mention alada kore. I LOVED the sound design, oh man. So, so, wonderfully and thoughtfully done.

The props, set changes everything was great. Samit and the others did a brilliant job too.

Much love and hugs from my end. Hope you recover soon, but I suspect you're gonna miss Payal too.

Subhashree said...

Hugs SusieQ.

Neera said...

I hope you are doing better Sue :) This was quite an eye opener. *Hugs*

Sue said...

Dipali -- Now that our run is down to its last few shows I finally think I've learnt to switch on and off at will!

Parul -- There are some video clips, I will upload them soon. And you're right, I've been very lucky.

Kaichu -- I'm glad you came, even more that you brought your mum. This one makes all of us relive our own histories one way or another, I find. I'll pass on your kind words to the cast and crew, thanks so much.

Subha -- *hugs back*

Neera -- Back on my feet, thanks for the hugs.

Beq said...

In hindsight, and I wanted to ask, did Payal know you had named the characters after her and her daughter?

Sue said...

Beq -- Would you believe the coincidence hadn't hit me until you mentioned it? I must tell her!

Beq said...


Beq said...

I would think it's too much of a coincidence, given how well you know her. Extremely weird that is.

Sue said...

Beq -- But that's the beauty of it. I, who know them, didn't name the characters. Shuktara, who doesn't, did.

Indrani said...

Finally got to it. Ayesha, I am glad to see you had to work hard at something! Kinda got the impression that you sailed through school, college, and University!

I had seen you once in multiple cameo roles in Kolkata. You were good at the transformations, which required a lot of "negative capability".

Just doing presentations drains us--forget acting. Too much work.


Robersonyiby said...