I went to watch Evam's performance of Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest yesterday. The play is really special to me: the last act was in my Class X English book and I was amazed at how incredibly funny writing could be! I discovered a four-play Wilde anthology at home, and read it one night. That was the fateful night right before my Class XII Physics board exam! While the rest of the world revised formulae, learnt answers by heart, and puked their guts out from the tension, I read Wilde for hours that night. Looking back 12 years later, I should have read Shaw before Chemistry, instead of revising equations, learning answers by heart, and puking my guts out.
Back to Evam and Earnest: it was a hastily put-together performance where most people messed up their lines more than once. The costumes were so bad that it was unbelievable, and the set design and arrangement was noticeable in a play for the first time ever for its utter miserableness. That apart, Wilde is impossible to go completely wrong with, so there were quite a few laughs, and overall, I'd probably do this all over again instead of watching Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, or the trailer of Ghajini.
The clearest memory I bring back from the play is Evam's announcement that their annual turnover has touched Rs 1.5 crore. With 300 of us in the audience having paid a Rs 200 per ticket, this figure seemed quite plausible, although it's remarkable in every way! Sunil and Karthik, the founders of Evam, are MICA grads whom I've seen performing on stage during my short stint at the school. Instead of taking up regular "jobs" after getting their management degrees, they've transformed the penniless jhola-kurta actor-director's trope into a well-marketed and very profitable business. Everyone is young, everyone wears black T-shirts, and they offer to do corporate theatre training/events and even sell merchandise. The audience comprises teeny boppers when Evam is performing (which also means that the number of Kanjeevarams diminishes radically, much to my sorrow), and you can see that if it's marketed right, theatre can find its feet, its audience and its place under the sun. If only the play had been worth it, I'd probably have invested another 200 bucks into their Monty Python act later this week. Which is saying a lot, since 200 is definitely a shocker for an NSD-phile who's used to paying 50 bucks, and a certified cheapskate who managed to find a 100 rupee multiplex ticket in Bangalore in the first week for Ghajini (if darling Aamir's going to lobotomize me, I'm not going to pay 300 bucks to have it done!)
Evam, probably, will get better at producing quality entertainment if they know what's best for them in the long run. Meanwhile, do read Wilde if you have exams coming up. What ARE you going to do with degrees and great marks anyway????