Will Eno’s monologue, Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) opens, this weekend

The play is performed by renowned theatrist Preetam Koilpillai and is directed by Rebecca Spurgeon

Alwin Benjamin Soji Published :  18th August 2023 01:17 AM   |   Published :   |  18th August 2023 01:17 AM
In frame: Preetam Koilpillai

In frame: Preetam Koilpillai

Based on the one-man show written by Will Eno, Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) is a monologue, where the protagonist has suffered a lot in his life. He talks about a bee sting, a boy with a dog that died and also about his experience with a woman. The monologue will be performed in the city, this weekend, by popular theatre artiste Preetam Koilpillai and is directed by Rebecca Spurgeon. We speak to Rebecca to find out more about this performance, why she chose to work on this particular project and lots more...

What can the audience expect from the performance?
I must answer that question by talking about what the play is about. And the play is about a character taking us through his life. I think what an audience can expect comes down to what the performance is like. I’m very excited about this particular show because I am working with Preetam Koilpillai, who’s an extremely accomplished performer and a director himself. And what I really think is that this performance is going to end up being a culmination of all those years of work and experience that both he and I have been doing. So, the performance will be like a force. I think, it will be a force, because it’s intense, but it’s intense in the way that this performer is going to stand on stage and hold your attention for 75 minutes and it’s going to be unrelenting, in the best of ways! Because, when I experience theatre, when I watch any piece of theatre, that’s really what I‘m seeking. I’m seeking that experience of being held and being moved and feeling emotional and ensuring the play can stay with me for long after. That’s how I’m approaching this performance.

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With attention spans decreasing over generations, what tools have you used to make sure that you capture the attention of the audience?
There are so many things that we do. The best way to approach a performance, as a director, is to ask how
it’s working for you, as if you were a person sitting in the audience and expecting to understand the story, expecting to feel for the characters that are part of the story. There are a lot of dramatic devices that you’re required to use. Things like the idea of tension, the idea of performance, energy and that kind of other fundamental tools that actors and directors work with, to hold the show. For example, this show is 75 minutes long and there is a story that is being told. But how is the story being held? It’s being held by this tension that the performer can create. It’s like a connection with the audience that makes them want to listen and pay attention.

Rebecca Spurgeon

It does seem like a lot of brainstorming went into the performance?
Absolutely. We worked like five days a week and seven to eight hours every day. We’ve worked for close to six weeks. Considering that Preetam has come in with decades of experience and I’ve also been actively
working in the theatre since I was 18, I’m 36 now. So, I’ve also been doing this for a long time. But even so, I think we put so much time into it because we recognise that for a performance to hold, this is the quality and intensity of the work that’s sort of required to carry it.

Was there a particular reason you chose to work on Thom Pain?
I’m drawn to stories about people, where we understand that life is about so many things. As we live through the experience, we understand it differently from the way we’ve been told to expect it. I’m personally drawn to this kind of work. I feel like I can relate to it, it feels like I know these emotions.

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Have you conceptualised the performance in such a manner that it works for the Indian audience?
I feel this play is universal in its themes because it’s about human experience. These human experiences
include childhood, loss, falling in love, losing the person you love, surviving a heartbreak and such things. There aren’t any cultural references that may be located in a particular place. I feel that the play can work anywhere.

What are your upcoming projects?
I’m curating the Indian Classical Music and Dance Festival at Jagriti, which is an annual festival. That is going to take place in September. We also plan to take Thom Pain to other cities as well.

INR 400. August 18, 3.30 pm and August 19 & 20, 3.30 pm & 7.30 pm. At Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield

Email: alwin@newindianexpress.com
Twitter: @al_ben_so