Last weekend, Perch had five shows of its latest production and being in charge of lighting I was there from friday till sunday pretty much from morning till night. The venue was Museum theatre in Egmore. Its a beautiful old-world venue for theatre, built in 1896. Below you can see the view I had from my lighting booth.
The play was "Ms.Meena" which we had already toured with extensively in the last nine months and these shows at the museum completed 23 in all. Compared to all other venues across India the audience turn-out in Madras was the poorest. In a way it is surprising since our group is from Madras and we've only done one single show of Ms. Meena before in our city and that was August 2010. But when you think about it, I guess Madras cannot be called a theatre friendly city. The more we travel with plays, to places like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi or even smaller cities in Kerala and Andhra, the more this gets impressed on us.
We have always performed our big productions at the Museum Theatre. It is the most affordable for theatre groups like us. Part of the reason for this is they offer only very basic facilities. Its a nightmare to rig lights, the bars are low and the angles shallow. There is no sound or lighting booth. We just set up a table in the aisle at the very back of the theatre and all the cables run snake-like all over the place. All equipment has to be hired by us, the venue is just a shell.
But what a grand old shell it is. The audience sits around the thrust of the stage and the actors feel embraced by them. The high domed ceilings, the arches and the beautifully carved polished wood proscenium frame a performance very dramatically.