One on One - Unlocked: 22 artistes deliver 10 monologues in a digital play based on lockdown life
AFTER THE FIRST and second edition of One on One, which went to stage in 2010 and 2015 respectively, Rage Productions is back with the third edition of the series. Titled One on One — Unlocked, it brings together 22 theatre stalwarts as they highlight how the lockdown affected all of us in various ways — while it was introspecting and illuminating for some, it was irritating, igniting and isolating for others and it was some or all of it for the most.
Packing the emotions that all of us experienced, nine playwrights — Abhishek Majumdar, Adhir Bhat, Akarsh Khurana, Anu Menon, Ashok Mishra, Hussain Dalal, Purva Naresh, Raghav Dutt and Rahul da Cunha — have penned 10 monologues. They bring to the stage and in this case to the screen a wide range of characters — an exasperated Hawaldar, a philosophical alcoholic, a young actress trapped in her flat, an anxious mother, and a spunky cable TV repairman, among others.
“One on One principally presents a single actor on stage doing an eight-to-ten minute long monologue. Since we were certain that theatres would be the last to open, we thought of experimenting with this series, since the format is quite conducive for working and coordinating remotely. So, we got our writers to g ether — both Hindi and English — and unanimously decided to keep the lockdown as the central theme,” informs Rahul da Cunha, who along with Shernaz Patel and Rajit Kapur, founded the Rage Productions almost three decades ago.
Owing to the situation where a real-time production is not possible, the process was tweaked in a manner that directors and actors rehearsed virtually and then shot each monologue in a single-shot format over a mobile phone inside their home as happened in most cases. “In my building, outsiders weren’t allowed so I shot it myself,” informs Anu Menon, who wasn’t very convinced initially about acting her own monologue and then shooting it herself. “I was concerned that I would perform too much like Anu and that would bring my standup style but Nadir Khan directed it and he is a genius who is capable of bringing something out of you that you yourself didn’t think was possible. But shooting it was bizarre! We coordinated over WhatsApp to find a location inside my home where while I am able to shoot around my in-laws and kids, the background noise could be kept away. And, although I am not a technical person, here I was my own sound engineer, camera person and light person,” adds Menon.
Each performance was shot individually and then put together into an hour and a half long play with an interval in between. But since the theatre has always been about the live experience and artists feeds off the energy of the audience, how did they find this cross between theatre and web? “I think that content has the capability to transcend format. The theatrical element is that it is one shot. So it’s performed at a go, as it would be on stage. The language of cinema is not really being used in terms of editing, etc. This is a hybrid format like Cineplays once were. What better time than this to experiment?” adds Akarsh Khurana, who has written a piece for Neil Bhoopalam and directed another featuring Hussain Dalal.
One on One — Unlocked is a part of Paytm Insider’s new IP, Front and Centre. It will premiere on Aug 14. Tickets are priced at Rs 500.