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Loading “The Hindu : Cities / Chennai : An innovative exercise in collaborative entertainment”

09/09/11 2:59 AM

News » Cities » Chennai Published: May 16, 2010 02:53 IST | Updated: May 16, 2010 02:53 IST

An innovative exercise in collaborative entertainment Ajai Sreevatsan

Photo: Special arrangement R.Mathivanan (right), creative director, Stray Factory, along with his team members want to exploit the power of social networking to bring new creative energies into the local theatre scene.

Theatre is about the limits of possibility. On the stage, under the artificial lights, new personalities evolve and entertain, even if it is just for a short span of time. To provide a platform to let people come in and peep into this world of personalities and give everyone a chance to explore their creative sides, a group of working professionals have come together to form an entertainment collective in the city. The group operates in a virtual ‘workshop' called Stray Factory, which defies barriers such as a background in theatre and geographic boundaries. The set design for one of their upcoming productions is being done by someone based out of New Jersey, music by a Canada-based band and graphic illustrations are done in Mumbai. One of their writers is based in Colombo and the actors are drawn from Puducherry and Coimbatore. Many of them have alternative careers, but their passion for theatre brings them together. But how does one work with strangers? “If a person is reasonably passionate about something, they can't go wrong,” says R.Mathivanan, creative director, Stray Factory. He adds that when people come together and devote whatever time they can, new creative energies materialise. The group's idea is to go beyond theatre, into new and innovative forms of collaborative entertainment. Aishwarya Mahesh, one of the co-founders of the collective, says “We are trying to bring theatre to everyone. This is a way of creating new audiences.” One such attempt is The Great Indian Blogologue challenge. Bloggers can submit their virtual diaries which will them be adapted on to the stage on World Blog Day (August 31). “Unless new people who have new ideas and a new set of talents are brought in, theatre cannot reach a wider audience,” says Mr.Mathivanan. But in the end, it is not just about theatre. As Shravana Raghavan, a co-founder says “It is about meeting new people, learning from them and sharing what we know.” Keywords: Chennai theatre

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Loading “The Hindu : Life & Style / Nxg : Crime fest”

09/09/11 2:16 AM

Life & Style » Nxg Published: July 21, 2010 20:23 IST | Updated: July 21, 2010 20:23 IST

Crime fest TANYA THOMAS

The Hindu A scene from Stray Factory's adaptation of Hitchcock being staged. Photo : R. Ravindran.

There's something about the twisted criminal mind that is unnerving yet terribly addictive. Alfred Hitchcock famously milked this morbid obsession with his slew of psychopathic thrillers. And so did Stray Factory last Saturday; why else would the audience battle rain and every-five-minute traffic jams on flooded streets, except to watch warped criminal minds at work? Besides cheering for a new ‘collaborative' theatre group's first production, that is. Pick of the lot Stray Factory, a recently conceptualised “network of actors, writers, artists and musicians” staged their debut production ‘Hitchcock' last weekend. The collection of three plays is from the 1950s hit TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and even stylised and presented the same way with witty Freddy Koikaran playing the portly Mr. H. Admittedly though, it wasn't the pure horror of “Psycho” on stage; mostly light-veined Hitchcockian suspense that kept our bloodlust waiting for a while. The evening opened with “The Right Kind of House”, about a scheming widow's trap to net her husband's killer. Directed by Mathivanan Rajendran, the plot is unfortunately ridden with characterisations that, from repeated abuse over the years, have now effectively become clichés (like the bored, nail-filing bimbo secretary to the over-eager real estate agent.) But it does pick up in the second half, with Mr. Bud White (Sharan) bringing the final scenes alive. As ‘Freddy' Hitchcock pointed out, “Triggers in Leash” (directed by Vivek Hariharan) was a “Western, without the horses”. The story has two surprisingly well-dressed, gun-toting cowboys (Sandeep John and Rajiv Rajaram) stumbling over their accents and assorted furniture in an old-fashioned pub. Nisha Krithivasan as the pretty pub owner Mrs. ‘Maggie' Ryan is convincing at both the level-headedness and melodrama of her character. Again, not quintessential Hitchcock stuff but the knee-slapping comedy's climax explains why the two ‘goons' looked so uncomfortable with their guns. The best though, was saved for the last. “The Motive” (directed jointly by Gitanjali Raman, Mathivanan and Vivek) was the psychotic murder we were all dying to watch. The neo-noir setting of committing the perfect motiveless killing reminded me of another Hitchcock classic, “Strangers on a Train”. Mathivanan and Vivek as the thick friends Richard and Tommy were simply fantastic. The two definitely prove better actors. Vivek reprises his role as the cold-blooded killer from The Madras Players' recent “Witness to the Prosecution” with ease, while Mathivanan's cockiness keeps you guessing till the end. This performance is not to be missed. Professional execution

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Loading “The Hindu : Life & Style / Nxg : Crime fest”

09/09/11 2:16 AM

For a debut production, Stray Factory has all the professional slickness of a seasoned group. They've used shadow play and projectors to wonderful and varied effect, from aiding story-telling to crediting the cast. Sets were functional and assisted further by smart lighting (off-cue a few times, but that's forgivable). It made viewing less tiresome; significant, because others have faltered on this count before. And although initiated by friends, “aunties and uncles” and a close-knit theatre fraternity, Stray Factory fully deserved the standing ovation they received in the end. Hitchcock will be playing again this Sunday evening at Museum Theatre. Tanya is a III Year B.Com. student at Stella Maris College. Keywords: Alfred Hitchcock, Stray Factory Ads by Google Behind 9/11 attacks Critically acclaimed doc film Watch Free, get the facts NOW www.thethirdjihad.com Printable version | Sep 9, 2011 2:15:30 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/nxg/article526520.ece © The Hindu

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Loading “The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : Where blogs come alive”

09/09/11 2:18 AM

Life & Style » Metroplus Published: November 2, 2010 17:22 IST | Updated: November 2, 2010 17:22 IST

Where blogs come alive Anusha Parthasarathy

The Hindu A NOVEL ATTEMPT: The Great Indian Blogologues. Photo: K.V.Srinivasan

Catch popular blogs take shape as humour-filled plays at the The Great Indian Blogologues

Society complains about dearth of original content. Theatre groups burn the midnight oil to look for good scripts. Suddenly, they realise there is a Shakespeare in every Chennaiite, and decide to bring him/her out. Hence, the Great Indian Blogologues happens, and how! An (almost) rainy Sunday evening is best spent sipping a hot cuppa by the window. But what is better than compulsively looking for an elusive downpour is to spend it watching blog posts come alive, and rather funnily at that. “We wanted to get new audience to theatre and realised there is a good bunch of bloggers in the city. There is actually a lot of original content online, and no one's ever looked at it as a possible script. What Stray Factory has done is chain some posts together in three parts, to make three short plays. It took us about five months, but we're finally here,” says Mathivanan Rajendran, one of the directors. Three plays were performed in all — ‘Judy finds The One', ‘Vigilante vs. Vigilante' and ‘Confessions of a Scattered Mind', staying very close to the original script by Judy Balan, Giri Vijayakumar, Charan, S. Pradeep Kumar, Teenu Terrance, Anuraag Seshadri, Athisha, Vinay Menon and Zaid Mohammed. While the transitions between the various blog posts were good bar some technical difficulties (they used two TVs to act as thought bubbles and two-way phone conversations), the plays saw the bloggers guffawing at their own posts. “Indiblogger tied up with Stray Factory for this production. We sent out a newsletter to all our members and received 1,012 entries in a week and shortlisted a few. We are always on the look out to bringing bloggers to light, and this is another medium to do so. This was also a brilliant concept, and we'll continue to tie up with them for the other chapters too,” Renie Ravin of Indiblogger explains. All the plays have a line of humour running through them, with one part enacted completely in Tamil. Another parodies politics and even caricatures politicians who overuse Twitter. Though the concept wasn't incredibly clear and left you lost in parts, the script was funny enough to let it pass. There is also a full-fledged musical about a traffic jam in the third play! http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/article865015.ece?css=print

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Loading “The Hindu : Life & Style / Metroplus : Where blogs come alive”

09/09/11 2:18 AM

“We realised that there is great opportunity to experiment with original content. With existing scripts, you can't do much. But here, it's much more local and we talk about the city and Besant Nagar. There is more proximity with the audience. And, we keep improvising, so much that two days before the performance, we realised we had to stop if we wanted to finalise the script at all,” Mathivanan laughs. Judy Balan, three of whose posts were selected for the play, says: “I've been blogging for a year and mostly write humour. Blogologues was an interesting concept and the only one that didn't require you to write again from scratch. They wanted any entry that you thought was your best.” As for the acting and script, the audience's rollicking laughter was the verdict. The Great Indian Blogologues kicked off in Chennai, and another performance is slated for November 13. They will also be visiting other cities every quarter. For details, call 97909-11711. Keywords: The Great Indian Blogologues Ads by Google New Lenovo IdeaPad Z570 2nd gen Intel® Core™ i5 powered Laptop now comes with a lot more. www.lenovo.com/in/Z570_Laptops Download Aug e-Magazines Find new products and get latest trends on Global Sources trade Mag www.globalsources.com/mag/free/ Lic Child Plans Save 30 Lacs for Education/Marriage Compare with 22 Child Insurance Co. www.bimadeals.com/childrenplans Printable version | Sep 9, 2011 2:17:33 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/article865015.ece © The Hindu

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Loading “The Hindu : Arts / Theatre : Frightfully funny”

09/09/11 2:15 AM

Arts » Theatre Published: July 11, 2011 19:05 IST | Updated: July 11, 2011 19:15 IST

Frightfully funny NITHYA SIVASHANKAR

SCENE AND HEARD Philadelphia and The Right Kind of House Photo: M. Periasamy

It was a weekend of thrills, chills, romance and laughter as Stray Factory and Stage Fright productions got into the act

Said Alfred Hitchcock, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” And Stray Factory's production of ‘Hitchcock' (an adaptation of ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents', a hit television series) kept the expectant audience hooked right till the very end. Directed by Chennai theatre artists Mathivanan Rajendran and Vivek Hariharan, the performance held at Corporation Kalaiarangam, comprised three short plays, based on episodes from the series. Freddy Koikaran appealed to the audience to “put up with his terrible impersonation of Hitchcock for 90 minutes.” The setting was plain and uncomplicated. Everything right from the angular furniture to the costumes of the actors were in shades of black, white and red. With William Congreve's famous quote, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, the first sketch began. Directed by Mathivanan Rajendran, ‘The right kind of house' featured an all-Coimbatore cast. Evelyn, a young widow, wants to sell her ‘house with a mysterious past'. White, a retired salesman makes a deal with her and the story slowly unravels the mystery and ends with a twist-in-the-tale. While technical snags somewhat dampened the first half of the sketch, the tempo picked up in the latter half. ‘Triggers in leash', a Western, directed by Vivek Hariharan followed. “We wanted to have horses on stage,” confided Freddy to the audience “But they were having trouble remembering dialogues…the actors aren't any better, but we are stuck with them.” In a tavern in the middle of nowhere, cowboys Red and Dell, decide to have a showdown. The innkeeper Maggie tries to knock reason into their heads. They say the best is reserved for the last, and so it was. ‘The motive' saw some great acting and a spine-chilling plot. Two friends, Richard and Tommy, chronicle murders. The story revolves around Tommy's hypothesis — “A motiveless killing is a 100:1 shot”. Suspense and melodrama made the play a fitting finale to the evening. On the second day, it was Stage Fright Productions' – ‘Love is strange'. It was a compilation of four short romantic comedies, written by acclaimed playwright David Ives. The setting was stark – minimalistic furniture arranged against the backdrop of a projector screen. Marcus barges in ranting about “the weird things that have been happening to him all day.” Pharmacies in the city don't have Paracetamol, the day's newspaper isn't available in any of the newspaper stands and Chinese restaurants aren't serving noodles, he says. “That is because,” explains his friend Al, “You are in a Philadelphia.” “The rule of thumb is http://www.thehindu.com/arts/theatre/article2218763.ece?css=print

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Loading “The Hindu : Arts / Theatre : Frightfully funny”

09/09/11 2:15 AM

that when you are in a Philadephia, you ask for the exact opposite,” he says. And thanks to this, Marcus gets lucky. When dawn breaks In the second sketch, two mayflies, ‘Horus' and ‘May' court each other. May invites Horus to get comfortable in her lilypad. They decide to watch some television and Horus picks out Steve Irwin's show – “Life on earth: The swamp life”. Much to the mayflies' surprise, May's pond (called a “puddle”, by Steve) features in the show. Steve states that these “lowly insects' life cycles” involve only “meeting, mating, breeding, feeding and dying.” It dawns on Horus and May they have only till dawn to live. The next sketch told the tale of Betty and Bill. Bill, a regular in the café, tries to get friendly with Betty and they start a conversation. Whenever one of them goofs up in the chat, a bell rings, and they are given another chance to set things right. Falling in love was never simpler! bazaar. Accompanied by a translator, Norman a tourist, visits an antique shop in an Arabian Bazaar. It is run by the pretty Flora. Norman and Flora fall for each other and the romance is spurred on by the translator. What follows is a hilarious threesome interaction. ‘Love is strange' was enacted by Mathivanan Rajendran, Amrita Samant and Freddy Koikaran, and was co-presented by Stray Factory. Keywords: Stray Factory, Stage Fright productions, Alfred Hitchcock Ads by Google Behind 9/11 attacks Critically acclaimed doc film Watch Free, get the facts NOW www.thethirdjihad.com Printable version | Sep 9, 2011 2:14:33 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/arts/theatre/article2218763.ece © The Hindu

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