For any theatre actor, a solo act is the ultimate test that pushes his creative and acting skills to a limit where he transforms into a seasoned performer. And, when a solo act involves the protagonist donning 10 different hats, it is bound to offer an inescapable and exciting challenge.
This is what Mumbai-based theatre actor Deepal Doshi would be doing in the capital this weekend when he would perform A Tale of Two Treaties, produced by Behroopiya Entertainers, at Alliance Francaise in south Delhi. This 75-minute act uses the 16th century Commedia Dell’Arte Italian theatre form that involves improvised performances, but unlike the original, which involves an ensemble, the 33-year-old chose to infuse fresh elements by making it a solo performance.
“I wanted to teach this form of theatre in India, but I didn’t want to do it in a mundane manner. I decided to do something that was challenging and experimental. So I came up with the idea of doing the entire act solo,” Doshi, who is in the capital, told.
Doshi obtained a diploma in Grotowsky-based physical theatre from Vardinge in Sweden and a Master of Fine Arts from the Dell’Arte International School Of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. He then collaborated with a Swedish director and conceptualised this play, without any script in hand. The play is now directed by his wife Kathryn Doshi and has travelled to Sweden and the US, as also to Bali. It was first performed in Mumbai in 2010. Doshi pointed out that “the script evolved on its own and so does my performance, which I improvise on after every performance”.
Interestingly, the basic plot of the play is simple: It’s is a love story where a girl and boy fall in love, their families oppose this and after a lot of melodrama, they unite. “It is a happily-ever-after story,” said Doshi, adding the storyline is influenced by the basic Commedia formant which focus more on how the story shapes up and not on what the story is all about. For Doshi, performing this act has been an enriching experience as he uses the physical art of transformation through masks.“The ability of an actor to transcend into so many actors is the biggest challenge. But that is what drives an artist – challenge,” said Doshi. “I believe failing is the breeding ground for creativity,” he added.
Explaining how situations can become tricky, yet pose a challenge when he has to fit into the shoes of several characters, Doshi said, “In the last scene of the play, 4 people are having an argument, so I have to completely absorb myself into each of them and enact their personalities through the body language.”
The play will be staged on April 18 and 19.