Y.G. Mahendra’s “Venkata 3” at USA
A DIFFERENT ATTEMPT: Venkata3 in the U.S.
United Amateur Artists’ (UAA) popular play, ‘Venkata3,’ was recently staged in the U.S. The shows were significantly different, because all the actors, except YGM were non-resident Indians residing in the U.S. The 12-member cast comprised Tamil stage artists from Chicago and Milwaukee. The sold-out shows of the play had a plethora of hilarious sequences, which were received very well. U.S. based newspapers such asHiIndiaandThendral, a magazine, noted the unique effort of the group. Though there is great demand for Indian theatre performances among the NRIs, flying a large crew from India to the U.S. poses several constraints, budgeting for one. An added complexity is the uncertainty in procuring a visa for everyone in the group. It is in these contexts that collaborative efforts, such as the one attempted with Mahendra in Chennai and the theatre troupe in Chicago, work.
“Generally, I travel with my own cast to stage plays in different countries. Teaming up with a Chicago-based group was an experiment,” says Mahendra. The group effectively used Facebook and Youtube to reach information about the shows to the audience, while tele-conferencing and skype-based video calls helped members put the act together. “I was amazed at how the team pulled it off in a very short time,” exclaims Mahendra.
The actor who is used to months of rehearsals and run-through sessions before a play, had just a week at Chicago to guide and fine-tune the NRI cast. Even before his arrival, the new team was almost ready to hit the stage – they had worked on the dialogue and had rehearsed the scenes thoroughly,” says Chicago Ranga, who coordinated the collaboration efforts from the U.S.
“We learnt a lot from our association with Y.G.Mahendra. It was an intense, insightful experience for us”, observes Raj Vardhan, another US-based amateur theatre artist. Passion for the art makes successful experiments such as ‘Venkata3’ worthwhile.