M F Hussain's Daughter Raisa Hussain Spotted at Shobha De's Saree Collection

Shobha De's new "cocktail" saree collection had a lots of well-wishers dropping by at Samsara in Mumbai. One of them was Painter M F Hussain's daughter Raisa Hussain.
Shobha De and her husband Dilip De with Raisa Hussain (right)

M F Husain's painting of his daughter

Shobhaa De's Daughters at Mom's Saree Collection

Just for mommy: (L-R) Arundhati, Avantikka and Anandita (Shobhaa De’s daughters)

Shobhaa De's new saree collection had a lots of well-wishers dropping by. They were seen enjoying the thandai and mithais while shopping. Hubby Dilip De was on hand for support at the event at Samsaara.

Highlight of the Event: It was a special day for daughters as Shobha De's daughters Avantikka (in a beautiful saree by Shobhaa), Anandita and Arundhati were there to support Mom.

Akshay Kumar's son Aarav Bhatia May Debut with 'Jumbo'

Aarav With Dad Akshay Kumar, Mom Twinkle and Grand Mom Dimple

We might get a chance to hear Akshay Kumar's six-year-old son Aarav Bhatia speaking in the voice of a squeaky Elephant, for the animation film Jumbo. Akshay who is giving the voice for Jumbo, may allow son to do voice over for baby Jumbo.

Baby Jumbo's voice is the only one that is not finalised yet. Akshay wants to ensure that Aarav's studies do not get affected.

Aarav's grandmom Dimple Kapadia is giving the voice over fro Jumbo's mother in the film.
Paresh Rawal's voice will be jumbo's friend and Lara Dutta dubs for Jumbo's girl friend, who eventually becomes his wife.

Jumbo is the story of an abandoned baby elephant who misses his father and longs for his family. He eventually sets out to look for his his father. Jumbo is expected to release on December 18.

Type Face

I find it really fascinating when I can't seem to get into a particular character. We've become very comfortable with the notion that every actor has a "type," or at least particular strengths that lend themselves to one sort of character over another. Why shouldn't we accept this? Grouping by type is something with which we are not only very comfortable, but it's often a necessary, day-to-day survival skill. When I get bored, I sometimes seek out commedia dell'arte types on the street. I'm particularly fond of my ability to recognize clipboard-types even without their clipboards. Saturday I found myself walking along 10th Street when I caught the eye of a rather earnest looking man of about my age standing outside a building entrance. There was nothing special to provoke alarm about this encounter. There was no clipboard, no name tag, no eccentric clothing nor any thought-provoking "stress test" paraphernalia. Yet I instinctively knew I had come across a clipboard-type, and immediately engaged my evasive maneuvers. I averted eye contact before his mouth could quite open, and my pace became still more brisk, and once again I was saved by my trusty iPod (I should nickname him Tonto) from any cries of endorsement that may have been pelted at my rapidly retreating rear. Thanks, Tonto!

He could have been a Dianeticist, he could have been an Obama/McCain/Bloomberg supporter, he could have been lost, and now I feel like a total douche. What if he was lost? Oh well: Builds character. The point is, I narrowly saved myself at least a minute-and-a-half of free time, which was of course promptly consumed by my wait for the N train. When it comes to character-building, there's little better for it than absolute, unequivocal failure. Or so I've been raised to believe. This is part of why I'm such a nearly decent actor now -- repeated character failures. I seem to do just fine with romantic types; youngish believers; broad-strokes villains; anal-retentive authority figures; clumsy sorts and quiet intellectuals. These are "types" I can slip into with relative ease, and in various combinations. I'm rather fond of the anal-retentive romantic, just as an example. If you ask me, however, to do a volatile authority figure, or a homeless veteran, or a frighteningly aggressive gangster . . . I can't guarantee you what you're going to get, nor how convincing whatever you get will actually be. You may scratch your head. You may say, "Jeff, I asked for a broken-down farmer who's contemplating selling his wife to support his kids, and what you gave me seems more like Robocop . . . on a unicorn."

And so maybe there is something to this "type"ing. Certainly it applies to most screen work one can readily imagine. I do not begrudge the screen its intricacies. However, as a character-actor enthusiast, I can't help but feel that nothing is impossible. More to the point, I can't help but feel that anything is possible. I believe people all need pretty much the same things -- survival and joy (in that order) -- and the seemingly infinite variety of expression to be found amongst the people of the world can be emulated in great detail, by anyone interested enough to commit the time and effort. Maybe if I had more time with A Lie of the Mind, I could have developed a better grasp of Frankie. Maybe the praise I received for my portrayal of a gangster in Riding a Rocket Ship Into the Sun was merited not because I managed a unique approach to the character, but because people simply believed in me as a sadist. It's a world full of possibility! Robocops on unicorns abound, and are accepted by all!

This question of the validity of transformation, the value of a character actor in today's world, is one I have been asking myself for some time. I don't think I'll ever get a solid answer going; it's more of a meditation. Lately, my meditation has taken me into the realm of interpersonal communication. Specifically, I've been contemplating how to reprogram myself (for a play or some other socially acceptable [relatively] paradigm) to respond instinctively using someone else's emotional landscape. More specifically, to respond as such under a parameter of the feminine. More specifically still, to respond as such under a specific (told you I was being specific) female's parameter. To wit: What makes this one woman tick? Try it yourself. Imagine someone of the opposite sex whom you know and try to get inside his or her head. For the sake of anonymity and my future happiness, let's call my particular case study "Geggin." It's absurd to imagine anyone who lives in the continental U.S. having this name, and thus her identity is completely and unambiguously protected.

In approaching a character that is unlike you, it's best to lure its attention away from you with a raw steak. Toss it at least twenty feet to your left or right, then scale the . . . oh, wait. That's approaching an evil millionaire's mansion, guarded as it is by vicious Rottweilers. When approaching a character that is unlike you, forget the steak, and focus instead on its origins. Why? Because Freud says so. Why else? Well, because if we're all driven by the same categories of appetite, what's left to define us are our genetic modifiers and the story thus far. Take me, for example. I'm an emotionally sensitive person, in the best and worst senses. I get this from my parents, and from being raised in a house that advocated psychotherapy and its techniques, whilst simultaneously being an extremely loving and nigh gratuitously emotionally honest refuge. Plus my mom's a minister and my dad loves opera. Of course I listen to your problems, and respond to simple rudeness with reason-crippling rage.

In contrast, this "Geggin" grew up in a household that got through a lot by soaring on the wings of their senses of humor, said senses being made up largely of goose down and sarcasm (it's an incredibly strong-yet-lightweight adhesive, sarcasm). Thus, whereas I may respond to a particularly coarse moment of reality television with wincing, and cringing, and running into the next room to check on the aloe plant, "Geggin" can eat it up with laughter and relish and a crowing, "Oh no! Oh!" Followed, naturally, by entirely unrepentant giggles. Had we been raised in one another's environments, we might not simply switch these reactions to Rock of Love: Charm School, but it is a little piece of information that helps in understanding the background of a character such as "Geggin." Were I to play her in a show, I would do well to train myself to respond similarly to such nauseating moments of schadenfreude, and this along with other behavior practices might help me to eventually understand the mental and emotional connections that allow the unbridled appreciation of television that is utterly senseless time-wasting trash.

But let me not mislead you into seeing such analysis as being only of use to actors. Nay. Indeed, committing just a little time to contemplating others' motivations and personalities can be an invaluable aid in simply communicating with them at all. We are offered insight into people more often than we perhaps appreciate, busy as we are with defending our own borders. In a sense, this kind of perception of others' motivations is blocked by the idea of "types." We never know if the rigorously tattooed young man next to us on the subway isn't in fact an incredibly gentle chap, nor whether the old woman picking out an umbrella in the pharmacy isn't a dominatrix. We need to think we know, but we don't know, not until we open up to the possibility of it, of anything. There are a lot of advantages to being open in that way. We'll probably get more of what we want from people when we understand them with more specificity. Perhaps more importantly, being open like that may allow people to understand us better.

Whether we like it or not, actually -- because this understanding could extend to clipboard-types. Then again, maybe that guy held the secret to converting "Geggin"'s taste for VH1 into an enthusiasm for the oeuvre of Tony Jaa. Hm. I wonder if I can still catch him down on 10th . . .

Moushumi Chatterjee Disapproves of her Daughter Megha’s Relationship with Co-Star Rajveer

Moushumi Chatterjee's Daughter Megha with Rajveer

Moushumi Chatterjee is fuming because she disapproves of her daughter Megha’s relationship with co-star Rajveer

If sources are to be believed, yesteryear actress Moushumi Chatterjee is not happy about her daughter Megha's relationship with newcomer Rajveer. Both Megha and Rajveer are the lead pair in their acting debut film, Ruslaan.

Our source said, “Initially, Megha and Rajveer were like any newcomers who did not know each other. Even after their Ruslaan director Mohan Sharma introduced them, they kept their distance and only interacted on a professional level. It was a shooting schedule in Kashmir that brought them closer.”

Megha went out of her way to help Rajveer shed his inhibitions in front of the camera. “Rajveer would feel quite awkward enacting scenes which required him to get intimate with Megha. But, after Megha helped him get over his shy nature, the two became good friends. They gradually discovered that they were compatible and shared similar interests in music and films,” said the source.

But, the relationship hasn’t gone down too well with Moushumi. “Rajveer and Megha are serious about each other much to Moushumi’s chagrin. Moushumi wants her to daughter to focus on her career and not get into any relationship right now. She also feels that Ruslaan is a good break for Megha because it based on the 7/11 serial blasts. However, Megha has told her mother clearly that Rajveer is very much a part of her life whether she likes it or not,” said our source.

Megha’s stand has angered Moushumi to such an extent that she did not even attend the completion party of Ruslaan which was celebrated at a nightclub in Juhu. “The unit waited for Moshumi more so because it was her daughter’s debut film. But, Moushumi did not attend the party. She has refused to promote her daughter in any way,” added our source. When contacted, Rajveer said, “Megha has been a wonderful co-star and I enjoyed working with her in Ruslaan.” On being probed further about his relationship with Megha, Rajveer said, “Yes, she is special but it is something very personal and I don’t want to talk about it.”

And what about Moushumi being upset with Megha because of their relationship? “Moushumiji is a senior actress and I respect her. As far as Megha and I are concerned, she is entitled to her opinion, which I respect,” added Rajveer.

Megha too didn’t deny the news and said, “I definitely won’t give a clich├ęd comment and say that Rajveer and I are just good friends. Yes, I am fond of him but it is too early to say anything.”
Commenting on her mother being upset with her, Megha said, “She is my mother and has the full right to guide and advise me.” Moushumi Chatterjee remained unavailable for comment.

Source - PARAG MANIAR (Mumbai Mirror)

Sonakshi Sinha Models for Dev R Nil at Lakme Fashion Week

Shatrugan Sinha's Daughter Sonakshi Sinha Walked the Ramp for Designer Dev R Nil

Sonakshi Sinha opened Dev R Nil fashion show on October 22 at the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, with a male model wearing the exact replica of her ensemble. Shatrughan and Poonam Sinha's daughter, confidently brushed shoulders with seasoned models as she walked the ramp for designers Dev R Nil at the Lakme India Fashion Week yesterday. Sonakshi has come a long way from being a tubby denim-clad volunteer backstage on previous fashion weeks; no one took note of her then. But that's in the past. Now she had walked the Ramp. The new well-contoured young woman could well set the ramp and the silver screen ablaze.

The designer pair used chikan kari to create subtle textures along with batik printing to achieve unusual jigsaw patterns in silk Lurex, satin, linen/viscose blends, stretch cotton and jacquards.

Sonakshi preferred to be behind the curtain for a long time, but now she’s ready to face the limelight Sonakshi Shatrughan Sinha along with a model Sonakshi spoke before the show, “I feel at home when it comes to fashion. It’s a men’s wear collection and I’m the only girl walking the ramp. I’m bridging the gap between the men and women,” she said.

Sonakshi’s not new to the world of glamour. She has seen the movement inside the green room as well as experienced the scene on the ramp. “I have been volunteering for the LFW for almost four to five seasons now. I have been around and that’s the reason why I’m not nervous,” said Sonakshi, who has been practising the catwalk last few days.

“I have lost a lot of weight in these ten months and people have been telling me that I should consider modelling. So if I do a good job today, I will give modelling a serious thought. Otherwise, I can always get back to designing,” said the girl who has studied fashion for three years.

And what about films? “I’m getting a lot of film offers but obviously they go to my parents first. I trust them completely and I know they will filter it all and give me the best one,” smiled Sonakshi who has many options to fall back on. But for now, it’s the Dev R Nil show that she’s thinking about. “It’s a new feeling and I will get to know how good or bad I am today,” she said.

Pooja Bedi's Daughter Aalia Walks the Ramp at Lakme Fashion Week

Bedi Beti Walks the Ramp: Aalia Walked the Ramp for designer Pallavi Jaipur on Day 2 (21 October 2008) of the Lakme Fashion Week

Off Stage: We're excited! Pooja Bedi with daughter Aalia

Mumbai: Pooja Bedi's 11-year-old daughter Aaliya has joined the ranks of Renee (Sushmita) Sen who walked the ramp last year. The actress-hostess is quite excited with her baby girl's ramp debut and talks about her beti's first steps in the world of fashion.

What has Aalia's ramp experience been like?
This is her first solo appearance and she's dressed as a Rajashtani princess. I'm ext-remely excited. Earlier, she walked for a charity show with me. The designer Pallavi Jaipur, is a mother of her good friend and she asked me if I'd let Aalia walk the ramp.

Did you ask her if she wanted to, or did you decide for her?
I asked my daughter if she was comfortable with it and she said yes! She is equally excited and I think one should enjoy every moment and treasure such experiences.

How old were you when you first walked the ramp?
It was in my 30s, and I walked for Priya Awasthi in Delhi for Bridal Asia. After that, I walked the ramp with Aaliya for Bombay Times and Plan India's charity

Do you think it's a good idea to expose her to the competitive world of fashion at this young an age?
Its not a competitive world of fashion, it's a fun, cute appearance at a Fashion Week by a kid. She is into art and it's her life. I give her the freedom to do what she wants. She'll always have my blessings.

What advice did you give your daughter for walking on stage?
Enjoy and have fun. It's not a hardcore career-defining moment. It's time to enjoy the experience.

Any celeb kids whom you think belong on the ramp?
Chunky and Bhavna's daughter, Ananya and Farah Ali Khan's daughter.

Creative Types

We can be pretty irritating, I know, and in an amazing variety of ways. We drive each other crazy, too, believe me. In fact, sometimes it seems like the central preoccupation in any creative type's life is trying to follow his or her process in outright defiance of any outside input whatsoever. This makes collaboration between two such types an often highly entertaining prospect . . . from the outside, at least. On the inside, there may be some hair-pulling, self-inflicted or otherwise, some eye-gouging, all standard operating procedure for we creative types. It can even seem quite subconscious, this uncooperative behavior. We're engaged in an intuitive challenge, and it piques our psychological quirks because our instincts are all we really have to back up our decisions. That's as it should be with pure creativity -- nothing is quite so original as a given individual -- but of course it sometimes leaves no room for the little things generally considered helpful to collaboration, like procedure, logic and human kindness. In fact, more often than not it feels as though the only thing that keeps collaborative artists from decapitating one another is the fact that they are, theoretically, united in pursuit of a common goal.

Yet it's something one develops a real taste for -- the creative, collaborative energy. It can feed itself and really take one to unexpected places; plus there's a momentum to it that is very motivating, very energizing. It feels good to "accept and build." So good, in fact, that when you achieve that dynamic you can find yourself wondering why everything else can't be like this. Doing my taxes should feel like this! I believe all challenges, even the most mundane and least challenging, have the potential to be approached in that spirit. I really do. But it's difficult. And fleeting. Because there's no escaping the fact that people change, and people are what it's all about, really. There's something special about being able to share and nurture that spirit, whether it's arrived at through hard work or instant chemistry and rapport. I suppose if it were easy or common, it wouldn't feel quite as rewarding.

I got a good dose of that feeling from Friend Nat last night over dinner. I feel like he kind of lives in that world in one sense or another 'round the clock. Aptly enough, Nat's the one who coined the tag "creactor" on this here 'blog (see the reactions on 2/28/07). He's very adept at taking something you give, even conversationally, acknowledging it and building upon it. That is to say, don't get into a competition with him that's at all about chasing the topper on a joke. You. Will. Fail. But then again, do get into it, if you have the opportunity. Because Nat seems to live by the tenets of good improvisation, such that even when he bests you it will be whilst agreeing with you, making you look good and helping to build on whatever came before. It's fun! I've got to figure out how he does that so consistently . . .

Also, I've got to dislodge my puckered mouth from his skinny butt. }smack!{

I don't see Nat nearly often enough, what with all the theatre'n' and the'rest'n' we're both up to. This particular encounter was owed largely to the fact that I'm presently on a brief theatre'n' hiatus until The Big Show gets mounted. (Er: opens. Er: goes up[dang it!]?) Even when we were last in a show together, we didn't get a lot of social time in. It's just the nature of the beast, it would seem. So when we meet, we have a lot to catch up on in all areas. We also, however, inevitably spend a lot of time talking about our work. It's what we both love, after all. In fact, it's just a little bit like dating the same willful woman, if said woman was in all places at all times and simultaneously dating half the population of Manhattan. But I digress. We talk about what we've just done, what we're working on, what's coming up and what we'd like to do in the future. Nat's got a play of his writing being produced at Manhattan Theatre Source come January, par example, right around the time I'll be getting good and ready to don Romeo's tights. (Oh shoot: tights. I didn't think of that possibility until this very moment...) He's suddenly busy right now, as a matter of fact. We just got lucky [dang it!].

Nat and I met whilst working on a whacky sort of show that was rather in development. We ended up performing all kinds of tasks in connection with the show that actors don't normally get the opportunity to undertake, such as revising dialogue, choreographing fight sequences and leaping from bookshelves. It was a little more than harrowing at the time, for me, because I tend toward anxiety (what? really?) and worry about the outcome when so much is uncertain. But it was great, too, and I'm still proud of stuff with which we came up. Zuppa del Giorno, at its best, works with that kind of chemistry, and with the urgency of enthusiasm more than of necessity. I can't quite imagine how much time I've spent creating something from "nothing" over my adult life, but the cumulative hours are probably a big number, and still there are no guarantees. One is never completely relaxed into the process; which is probably to the process's benefit. So it's good to be working with people you just grok. I've known this in some sense from a very young age but, as with everything else, it's one thing to intuit a lesson as a youth and another altogether to really learn and practice the same lesson as an adult. Learning (and practice) is like Jell-O(TM): There's always rooms for it.

Ooo. I should end on that sliver of sagacity right there. Copyright (c) Jeffrey Wills, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Some people have wondered why I have maintained Odin's Aviary as I have. Friend Mark asked me back in the day how I can commit the time, and Sister Virginia put a similar thought somewhat more bluntly. I admit, it's easier at some times than others. I would love to do an entry every day. I'd also love to have a huge audience and be responsible for inspiring a horde of like-minded people. I could probably change things on the 'blog to make these things happen, the first of which would be to shorten my entries dramatically. One paragraph a day, that kind of thing. Lots of posts about funny and weird and cool and rather arbitrary things. I wouldn't consider that a compromise of my integrity, or something ridiculous like that. Look at my shared items -- that's the kind of thing I subscribe to. No, I keep up this style of 'blogitude for far more selfish reasons. It's collaborating with myself. It's a little time (okay: a lot of time) committed to accepting and building on my own ideas and philosophy. That's why I spend a page or two, building on a thought when I'm more productive, wandering and exploring when I'm less so. It's practicing and learning, and anyone who gets something out of that by reading it is, to my mind, a huge bonus to that process. That's when being a creative type feels like a most worthwhile endeavor.

The Taoists are fond of pointing out that there is a difference between the knowledge of good, and the practice of good. This, then, is my practice.

Sonakshi Sinha to Walk the Ramp at the Lakme India Fashion Week.

Sonakshi to walkPsssst!

It's heard that proud papa Shatrugan and mama Poonam Sinha are sending out personal invitations to close friends to come and cheer and bless their daughter Sonakshi at the Lakme India Fashion Week. Sonakshi is walking as a showstopper on 22 October 2008, at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) for designer Dev R Nil.

The Sinha's invite says this is the beginning of their daughter's journey into the world of fashion. The Sinha beti has lost oodles of weight, and this is just a stepping-stone to Sonakshi's entry into the world of glamour and films. Maybe she will go from fashion to phillums soon. Wonder if brothers Luv and Kush would be in the audience too.

Hema Malini Celebrates Birthday With Dharmendra and Daughters Esha and Ahana Deol

Picture: Family Ties - Ahana Deol, Dharmendra, Hema Malini and Esha Deol at the Birthday party.

Hema Malini held a bash at her Goregaon home on Saturday night (18th October 2008) to celebrate her 60th birthday. The actress visited Tirupati on her birthday, so the party was kept for Saturday.

Her hubby Dharmendra and daughters Esha and Ahana played host. Among those spotted at the bash were Anil and Tina Ambani, Zeenat Aman, Madhoo Shah, Ketan Mehta and Deepa Sahi, Poonam Sinha, Ananth Mahadevan among others.

Source: Mid-Day

Kajol Asks KJo to Limit her Overseas Shoots, Doesn't Want to be Away From Nysa

Kajol With Daughter Nysa at Siddivinayaka Temple in Mumbai

Kajol has requested buddy Karan Johar to use her dates for the overseas shoot of My Name Is Khan for not more than 20 days at a stretch. The actress does not want to be away from Daughter Nysa for long periods of time. KJo's film starring Shah Rukh Khan will be shot extensively in the US. It is slated to start filming in mid-December in Los Angeles followed by another schedule in New York.

Outdoor scenes
Says a source, "Kajol has told the director-producer that she would shoot for 20 days non-stop on location to enable all the outdoor scenes being canned. She desires that the indoor portions be shot as far as possible in Mumbai. As her hubby Ajay Devgan is also busy with his shoots, she wants to be around for Nysa. The child cannot travel with them all the time. Also, Kajol does not want to stay away from Mumbai for months."

Source: Mid-day

"Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized..."

"Okay, 'butt-love'."

This is an exchange stolen from the script (such as it is) for The Reduced Shakespeare Company's first big hit, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [Abridged], and I quote it here to make a point. Oh yes, I'm venturing into new territory today -- an actual point. Here it is:

Lotsa people already made fun of Romeo & Juliet.

I mean: LOTS. If you just search for "romeo and juliet parody" on these here internets, you get a lot of results, in a full range from amateur to well-produced and well-known. Still more people have made fun of, made light of, and made all-comic of Shakespeare's entire canon, so that if you stacked the pages up from everything you'd have LOTSA pages. Probably they'd reach the moon and back. Maybe. Perhaps. I've no idea, really.

So Zuppa del Giorno is hardly venturing into undiscovered territory with its upcoming "wholly original" production, The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet. Heck: Stack Shakespeare in there as someone who made light of the story. Although the play is pirated from other adaptations of a couple of (very specifically) similar commedia dell'arte scenarios, and the biggest change he made was to make a few of the characters somewhat noble, and the story heavily tragic, he also had his fun. To put it succinctly: Shakespeare crammed just about every genitalia joke in there that he possibly could. Hamlet's "country matters" and lap-talk is minuscule in comparison. If you're reading the play, and you think he just made a reference to a particular bit of the male anatomy, odds are that he did. Even Juliet gets a swing at bat, if you will. Which is funny in more ways than one. It begs the question of whether or not ol' Will felt that a significant part of the story he was telling was simply two kids who were eager to shed trou' and bump uglies (answer: he did). I declared a theme of Odin's Aviary to be fart jokes, but I was being politic. "Richard" jokes are much more fun. (And I'm not talking "the Third," here.)

So, in a way, we're not doing something terribly original. I swear (though not by the inconstant moon) though that I'm smitten with David Zarko's concept of the story. As he's expressed it to me, TVNPCoR&J will be about people who are trying very hard indeed to keep life a comedy. In this way, we're not making fun of the play, but of people -- surely a good base for pleasing, accessible comedy, Shakespeare or no. I like this idea, the conflict, and the potential I see for this interpretation to inform the progress of the story. It's both funny and tragic, and could help us tap into a certain unpredictability that might make for a fresh experience for our audiences. It won't be a parody, or farce, or anything so self-conscious; rather, it will be a story of a community with something in common, in spite of all their violent or erotic differences. It feels, at the risk of gross generalization, very Italian to me. There's some talk of making it about a troupe of actors telling the story, but I'm not so in love with that. I'd rather represent people really living through it, trying to make their lives comedies that end well for each. But, yet again, heck: Nothing about these shows we make stays the same from start to finish. Best not to get too attached to any one idea yet.

So I'll fantasize a bit. Just to get it out of my system, you understand.

"Things get out of hand." This sums up pretty nicely for me what I'm imagining as a central action of our play. Much of the action of the basic story reminds me of children at play (and I refer to every character here, except possibly the prince) who get a little out of control with their fussing and fighting. Before you know it, someone's heart's broken, someone's eye's poked out, and everyone's pointing fingers in order to avoid more hurt. This meshes well with clown theory as I understand it, because clowns are very much like babies, or alien visitors, experiencing everything for the first time. They still have to learn concepts like "hot," much less "love." As it stands, our version will have only Romeo and Juliet as clowns, and the rest of the world populated by masked commedia dell'arte characters. This stands to drive the action right along, as commedia characters are largely appetite-driven and selfish. It's exciting to think of our first -- in five+ years of making dell'arte-inspired theatre, mind you -- masked show in general. I hope we can help our audiences see the masks as they were intended; more caricature than disguise, more revealing than deceitful.

Regardless of style choices, it will I hope retain the sense of contemporary fun that has been in every Zuppa show through the years. In our workshops, as we explored the seeming despair over Rosaline that Romeo exhibits on his introduction, we thought of having him accidentally pulling out moves borrowed from Hamlet, dressed in black, contemplating a skull wearing a red nose. I'd love to have movie posters up for other Shakespeare plays, borrowing from Silent Lives the notion of characters who learn their behavior from popular culture. The humor should come from the moment and character, not necessarily the indications of a joke in the script. Heather and I are already discussing the possible humor of feigned (or frustrated) exits, a running joke about people trying to leave stage and continually being called back. The balcony scene is a great one for this and comes to mind immediately, but also on the way to the party Romeo keeps trying to leave. The topper is the "morning after" scene, probably. Great place for a fart joke there, too, I can't help but notice. (Hopefully someone will shoot me down on this; "that may be a great idea for next year's show...") "It is the lark that sings so out of tune..."

It's at once thrilling and frightening to be so excited for another Zuppa show. After some five years' experience creating these shows in a variety of ways, I've come to learn that they can be the ultimate positive experience, or can be somewhat like Mercutio's famous monologue. Full of enthusiasm and wit to begin, but suddenly arduous and painful, too. Even Silent Lives, my favorite thus far, was something of a baptism by fire. You just never know how it's all going to turn out, and stand to save yourself a lot of pain by caring a little less. But of course, the whole point is in getting people to care a little bit more, to invest themselves in good laughter, and good tears. So there is no choice; not really. Like a good tragedy, caring this much about what I make is an inevitable progress through Heaven and Hell. Besides, the laughter is so much sweeter with a little suffering to weight it against.

It may not be an original idea, but it is a true one.

Rajnikanth Wants Amitabh to Star in His Daughter Soundarya’s Bilingual Debut Production

In an industry where friendships are usually fragile, the dostana between Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth is going from strength to strength. Now Amitabh might act in Rajnikanth’s daughter, Soundarya’s debut production, which will be a bilingual film in English and Tamil. Buzz is that a meeting was to be held between Soundarya and Amitabh to finalise the details but they had to cancel the meeting at the last minute because of Amitabh suddenly fell ill on his birthday on October 11.

Our source said, “Amitabh and Rajnikanth have been friends ever since they worked together in Andhaa Kanoon (1983) and Giraftaar (1985). Thereafter, though they didn’t work together in any Hindi film, they have always kept in touch. Whenever Rajnikanth, who is based in Chennai, visits Mumbai, he makes it a point to meet Amitabh. In fact, recently, when Aishwarya Rai was not keen to star in Rajnikanth’s Robot, Amitabh requested his daughter-in-law to accommodate dates for the film.”

Recently, after Rajnikanth watched Sarkar Raj, he called up Amitabh to congratulate him on his power-packed performance. The source added, “Since Soundarya is all set to make her debut as a producer by launching as many as six films in Hindi, Tamil and English, Rajnikanth thought of signing Amitabh for the film to be directed by Tamil filmmaker Gautham Menon. After initial talks on the phone, a meeting had been fixed to take the discussion further. However, since Amitabh fell ill, the meeting has been postponed.”

Amitabh has immense respect for Rajnikanth and immediately agreed to meet Soundarya. “Had Amitabh not been ill, the deal would have been sealed by now,” said the source.

Open Up


On Wednesday last (Odin's-day, oddly enough), while I was guest teaching in a high school, the school went into what was referred to as a "lock down." It was the start of second period, and the gym had just about acquired all of its students for the period when an announcement came over the loudspeaker. At least, that's what I'm told happened. I heard about it from the gym teachers, as the school-wide announcements do not penetrate the gymnasium itself, and I heard it whilst basing Friend Heather in a thigh stand for a photograph. We held until the photograph was taken, as a "lock down" doesn't particularly mean anything to us. After we got down, we asked what it meant, and were instructed that I had to go into the boys' locker room, Heather into the girls'. Okay, thought I, I'm not about to hang in the locker room; I'll go into the teacher's office.

And I did. And I wondered if I should lock the door (I understand language! [So long as it's English!]). It's a tiny office, and no one else was in there, though I could hear the raised voices of the boys in the adjacent locker room. Just as I was contemplating joining them, the male gym teacher for that period entered from there. He said a few noncommittal things to me about it being an eventful day, then turned back around and yelled at the boys to shut up, admonishing them for thinking everything's a joke, until all was silence. Then he turned back to me as if he'd barely interrupted himself and explained the situation a little better in a subdued tone. I felt bad, hearing him talk to me after he'd been so aggressive about the boys' silence, but I was also gradually coming to appreciate the motivations behind his severity.

In 1999, just a couple of months before I would graduate from college, two young men executed a plan to take their high school hostage with a murder spree that included the use of planned explosives. The whole thing was elaborately planned out, actually, and -- notwithstanding all the death and destruction wrought that day -- it could have been much worse had the plan gone accordingly. "Columbine" is now a word with tragic and unfortunate associations, probably for the foreseeable future, here in America. It's an Anglicization of the Italian colombino, which means dove, and "Colombina/Columbine" was a character popular in both the Italian and English commedia dell'arte traditions. I don't know what came first, but pictured above is a Columbine flower. Perhaps they're named for their resemblance to a dove; they characteristically hang in a shape like a dove with its wings tucked until they blossom, but they also aren't all white. Some are a rather vivid shade of red.

The main preoccupation for the gym teacher was the fact that the door out the back of the locker room seemed to be locked and he wasn't sure if he could unlock it. His feeling was that everyone would be safer in a certain back hallway, and he set about finding the key to those doors. Eventually he found it, and we all filed out of the locker room. I trailed the group, and found myself in a narrow, dim hallway that soon bent to the left and became a landing to two flights of concrete stairs that made a sort of u-turn, where there was a second, smaller landing. At the top, where I remained, were double doors that led outside and were locked with a heavy-duty wedge bar; presumably this was part of the appeal of this room, such as it was. The students all just fit on the two flights of stairs and landings, and most sat, preparing for a long wait. From the top landing, I could see everyone but a couple of boys at the base. It was cramped once people sat, but no one thought of spreading out a bit back toward the direction from which we came. We waited.

I went to one of these mega-schools that were popular to build in the 70s -- James W. Robinson Secondary School. Robinson, as we and everyone in the area called it, was named in honor of a certain Sergeant James W. Robinson, Jr., the first Virginia resident to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Vietnam conflict. The school is massive, and it needs to be to hold the some 4,000 students day in and day out. I found its size intimidating when I first arrived (in spite of attending the almost equally massive Lake Braddock Secondary for two years), aggravating throughout my middle years there and ultimately it became a weird point of pride in my final months there and thereafter. I would never have admitted this at the time, though. I felt largely oppressed by my circumstances, due to too many factors to get into just now, not the least of which was simply a seeming inability to understand that I was going through profound changes. I turned it around just before my senior year, but up until that time I was increasingly falling into stereotype (or archetype, if you will). You know the type. I kept to myself as much as I could. I even took to wearing the ubiquitous black trenchcoat.

The students had already changed into shorts and t-shirts for their gym classes, and the stairwell was pretty chilly. By and large, they were very well-behaved. It was only natural that their whispering would occasionally escalate, and we'd remind them, or they'd remind each other, with a "shh!" The teacher explained to me, as I tried to look responsive without actually making any sound (I wanted to avoid any hypocrisy, and figured that lacking any rapport I ought to lead by example), that they ran drills in lock-down procedure frequently -- too frequently, he felt. It made the students take it less seriously than they ought. Then again, this particular time could be a case of an aggravated parent on campus, or perhaps a building search for contraband. He didn't name the other possibility. He didn't have to. He went on to explain that they didn't hear all the announcements in the gym, certainly not in the stairwell. So, periodically he would call his fellow gym teachers on his cell phone to see what they knew. He even called someone at the elementary school (a separate building). No one had any information for him. We shushed the students again, and he told them all to just relax.

I've been pretty quiet in my 300+ entries to date on the subject of September 11, 2001, but that's not because I'm at all removed from the experience. On bad days, I'm avoiding it; on good days, I'm rising above and moving on. Both explanations are to say that it was the kind of event that one never quite epitomises in description. You had to be there, as the old comic excuse goes. What I can say about that day, for myself, is that it has a lasting and highly personal effect on me. It's a little darkly humorous for me, these people who advertise "Never forget." The memory of it lives at the back of my head like a patient worker, occasionally pressing his button or pulling his lever. I was rather alone that day: new guy at a temp job in Rockefeller Center, the phones mostly didn't work, giving me only the briefest opportunities to touch base with my girlfriend in Brooklyn, I was trapped for hours in Manhattan, picking up news from car radios and strangers' conversation. Eventually I found my way to the apartment of the only person I knew at the time who lived on the island. He wasn't really a friend of mine, but of my girlfriend's, and his place was packed with strangers watching the news. Sitting silent on a stool there, I worried about my dad in D.C., and relived the surreal morning, with its evacuation from the 50s down the twisting, disused fire stairwell of 30 Rockefeller Center. It seemed like we'd never get to the bottom.

When the bell for change of classes rang, no one needed to be shushed. It seemed to remind everyone that time was passing, and the longer we had to wait, the more likely it seemed that whatever motivated our lock-down was a dire circumstance. Minutes after the bell rang, the whispering started up again amongst the boys. As our time in the stairwell passed the hour mark, I stretched against the railing and the cold, and some of the students began to be more aggressive in their efforts to make sense of the situation, or at least lighten the mood. Some were playing a silent game (save for occasional involuntary victory cheers) that involved flicking out digits on both hands against one another. Some asked me who exactly I was; they'd never gotten an explanation on what they were doing in class that day. Others tried to nap or discuss quietly. One young man seemed to continually take it on himself to take charge of the mood and, by and large, he was pretty good at disrupting expectation and continuity with his joking. He seemed popular with the class, in a jester kind of way. Soon, talking to no one in particular, his kidding turned to half-serious plans for what to do when someone burst in with an automatic weapon. It was on everyone's mind. You'd occasionally hear one of them add a onomatopoetic gun noise to his whispered conversation. The jester was still trying to be light, but he was scared too, and losing his audience, boys getting variously agitated into signs of despair, or aggression. So I took a gamble. "Hey, seagull," I said in a normal tone of voice (he was wearing a t-shirt with a seagull silhouette on the front), then whispered, "If you're going to plan for us, whisper it." Then I offered a wry smile, hoping he'd get me. He did, simultaneously embarrassed at being caught out and pleased with the attention and the hushed chuckles of his peers. The tension did not stay away for long before mounting again.

After about a hour and a half of nothing, we got the call that the lock-down was over, and we could return to our third-period classes. It didn't quite engender the relief you might imagine, though everyone was pleased to march out from the chilly stairwell. We all returned to the locker room and changed, then walked out into the brightly lit gym to learn what we could. The students quickly took to the halls to access their community of gossip. Heather and I soon learned that the official announcement had actually stated that classes could take place -- just in the same locked room, until further notice. None of the gym teachers heard that. I felt a little ashamed at my relief over not having had to teach an hour-and-a-half gym class, but not at my hiding with all the men. It was the only sensible course of action, given the information we had. As we watched students flow out from the doors that faced onto a windowed hallway, one of the gym teachers said, "Look at the cop car pulling away. See that dog in the seat? It must have been a drug search." We went on to teach an abbreviated third period before leaving campus for lunch, a necessary diversion. The beginning of our last class for the day, seventh period, was interrupted a few minutes in by an announcement from the principal. He congratulated everyone on a clean report for drugs, including some students themselves who had been pulled from their classrooms. In something of a tangent, he went on to admonish those older students who were violating traffic laws when driving off school property, and let them know that they could expect an increased police surveillance along the road at that hour. "But overall: good job today."

When I was in high school, I was often very angry. I was also, often, terrifically depressed. I'd have a lot of answers for you if you asked me why, and I believed in them very much. I was creating so much -- my world view, my appetites, my self -- at such a frenzied pace that it was important to me to know the things I knew. We complain a lot about teenagers' personalities, but in terms of life stages it's really where the rubber meets the road, more often than not. All that ambitious, energetic emotion for learning that children have meets all that complex, interactive consequence that adults enjoy. It's confusing even without the sea change that released hormones bring to . . . well, everything. It's exciting. It's terrifying. Particularly for those of us who've been through it already, and understand the potential for disaster, and feel responsible for them.

It's hard to write about this without offering some sweeping verdict on it all (harder still, in some respects, not to relate it back to government or religious issues). That's not what I'm writing for, though. I'd like to avoid that. Instead, I mean to do what I do with other, less traumatic events here at the Aviary. That is, write out my experience in an effort to come to some kind of better understanding about it. Opinions must enter into it: I don't agree with using a "lock down" as any sort of practical device for something other than an immediate emergency. To wit, I disagree with using it to facilitate investigation, or set an example for teenagers to let them know they stand a chance of being caught at something. Yet I appreciate its necessity for preparedness. It seems extreme, but if you read the details of the Columbine incident, it's evident that the scenario was disastrously mismanaged by the authorities. Of course it was -- it was virtually unprecedented. And if the authorities have to shape up procedurally, so ought the schools. We drill for the potential of fire, of earthquake. This is another kind of natural disaster.

But. "Natural" does not mean it is without cause. Quite the opposite, in fact. I've read the details, and I saw Elephant in the theatre, and I wore a black trenchcoat through high school, and played Doom and fantasized about all sorts of socially morbid scenarios, and I still don't presume to explain the reasons behind Klebold and Harris' actions. What I do mean is to suggest that regularly cowering in a darkened room and being forbidden to speak might, just might, be more a part of the problem than of any sort of solution. Giving a society (and what else is high school than a constantly evolving society?) a little information and then turning their ignorance back on them as a kind of preemptive punishment, that's frustrating. In fact, revolutions have been begun for less. Unfortunately, most teenagers aren't yet capable of revolution, of the organization and long-view perspective required to make a social change. What they are capable of is making louder, more extreme choices until someone hears them. Hell: Most of my so-called choices in high school, in retrospect, were little more than reactions. Teenagers are exceptional at reacting, and we discount that ability at our, and their, risk.

Let people talk. Listen. Please.

301: Human Rights

Compliments BoingBoing.net:

Jaaved Jaaferi With His Children Alvia and Abaas

(Photograph: Music release of Road side Romeo, on Sep 30th 2008 at 'The Club' in Andheri, Mumbai)

Jaaved Jaaferi is married to Habiba and has 3 children - Two sons and a daughter. His sons are called Meezan and Abaas, his daughter is Alvia.

Habiba says having children has made her bond with Jaaved even stronger, "If that is possible," she laughs. "You won't believe it; we sleep with our children, and try and do as much as we can together." She is referring to Meezan, Alvia, and Abaas. Having three children is a full time job for any domestic engineer ( read: 21st century housewife / manager / counselor / guide / mom / wife ). "Pregnancy was crazy to handle especially with our eldest Meezan, but Jaaved was extremely patient throughout" says Habiba.

Jaaved Jaaferi With Wife Habiba

Three Hun Dread

The last of these I did was "One Hun Dread." Why -- oh why -- would I skip the poor, hypothetical "Two Hun Dread"? Why, instead of attempting to memorialize my two-hundredth entry, did I write about coulrophobia (see 1/28/08)? Well, Dear Reader, 200 simply isn't a terribly interesting milestone for me, especially after 100. It would be too much like clockwork and, besides, 300 is a really impressive number, absurdly chiseled abs or no. After all, threes are funny, and the over-riding (and often over-ridden) theme of this here 'blog is something called The Third Life(TM). So happy Three-Hun-Dread, Odin's Aviary! If I were a wizard of web video, I would compose and post a montage episode a la Three's Company ('twould feature things like my earliest entries with their charming naivete, the entries that got me in hot water with a director, and a misty-eyed moment from the recent birth of Loki's Apiary). Alas, I am not, so instead I'll stick to my usual thing and write at excessive length on a variety of subjects conjoined with a barely cohesive argument.

Me, I'm a pretty big fan of anniversaries. They're usually charted by increments of time, but I feel that anniversaries are essentially an honoring of cycles, and so feel justified in marking them by a number of occurrence as well as by specific dates. What, then, is the cycle I'm celebrating here, apart from the mechanical fact of this being my 300th entry? It seems to me that this 'blog is a cycle of examination more than anything else. I'm grateful for every opportunity I can take advantage of to make a little more sense out of myself and my work, and the Aviary has been an incredible (and [it seemed at its inception] somewhat unlikely) tool in helping me to focus my consideration of my work, as well as to present that consideration for public review and accountability. The Aviary averages a very modest 30 page loads a day, but the key there is that I never can be sure who's reading. Think of that what you may, it leads me inexorably to the conclusion that honesty is the only policy reliable enough on which to base what I share here. I try not to think of it as therapy, but must confess that it serves similar purposes.

It's better than that, though, because all of you are reading and -- occasionally -- contributing. It's a dialogue, albeit one dominated by my topics and moderation, and this is key to the sustainability of the 'blog thus far. I have to admit that I function much better with an audience. Even the idea of an audience improves my performance. So thank you, Dear Reader. Even if you've never commented here, you have motivated me beyond any journaling experience prior to this moment. And this one. And this one.

There's no substitute for real-world experience and communication, of course, and I've had quite the dose of both in the past week. My days were spent teaching high school, my nights in auditions and rehearsals, and my weekend contained a wedding and a reunion. (Small wonder then that I have anniversaries on the brain.) I would think occasionally during this time of this here 'blog entry, aware it was coming up, worrying at first it might land in the midst of my North Pocono journaling, then wondering what on earth I had to say about the Aviary and life in general now-a-days. I came up with nothing conclusive, which is in keeping with my usual approach here. My experiences over the week, however, have had some culminating effects on me. It's been a little like living on a television show; it's been that episodic. This week has very little of the promise of such unique experiences, which is just fine. It gives me time to reflect. It also gives me time to prepare my constitution as best I can for Saturday . . . my bachelor party. (After which there may be a little break from 'blogging, the which may involve much laying about and nursing inescapable injuries to my physique and psyche.)

Weddings can be seen as first anniversaries or, at least, the promise of anniversaries to come. At the wedding I attended on Saturday, the father-daughter dance was especially beautiful. I noticed, as they danced, a recent father sitting with his daughter on his lap and I wondered if he had in mind what I did. We don't dance with great regularity now-a-days. This makes the father-daughter dance a little archaic but, then again, it also increases the likelihood that it is indeed the last time a father will dance with his daughter. Ceremonies like this are sort of our opportunity to lay out our intentions to the world and say, "Okay: Sock it to me." They're deliberate, and so can be perceived as a little stale or obligatory, but I actually find most of them to be quite bold and as a result necessary. We never know which promises are made to last, which dances will be our last, and so it is quite important to occasionally stand in the face of chance and conduct a simple ritual. It says, "This is what I will do, this is who I am." And at anniversaries, we get to relive that moment, whether it worked out for us or not.

It's part of my philosophy that our smallest actions have far-reaching effects (see 9/10/08), both in terms of time and space (geeks: relax; not implying they're mutually exclusive parameters). What, then, of our more grand actions, our lives lived out through continuous practice and commitment and recommitment? I'd start by suggesting that what we perceive to be our "grand actions" are probably, mostly, woefully inconsequential in comparison to how important they seem to us. My 300th entry, just as an example. But regardless of how our perceptions of our actions compare to their actual grand-scheme import, I believe they benefit from continuation. I believe in commitment as being something valuable in and of itself, if for no other reason than the fact that it keeps the story moving and, thereby, keeps it unpredictable. Is it a comedy or a tragedy? What note will it end on? The difficulty in perceiving the results of our long-term actions accurately lies very much in our involvement. This is a forest? Is not. It's just ... um ... a lot of trees ... a surrounding of trees ...

This part of my philosophy is one of the things about me that keeps me coming back (keep on comin' back) to theatre. In theatre work, the process is long and developmental, and collaborative. You get to see the ping-ponging energy of ideas passed in real time, in a real space with (relatively) real people. Even into the run of performances, the actions keep developing, keep changing, keep contributing something new to the dialogue-at-large. Everything we do has the potential to work this way, I think. It's just that theatre work affords me the best opportunities that I've found thus far for doing it well. And hey: If you want to really witness first-hand the repercussions of sustained work, go teach high school theatre. Seriously. Talk about changes. Changes are all anyone's about at that age range, though they hardly notice it, for all the changing taking place (see above: forest/trees). Last week's work afforded me so very many opportunities to reflect on my own high school experiences that I came out of it with an unanticipated sense of clarity. Who knew teaching gym classes was a route to clarity? I'm savoring said clarity for as long as it may last. Oh look: it's a forest!

I had yet another unexpected return to high school last night, when I met Friend Kara for dinner. She was in town visiting her dad, and managed to make a little time to reunite in person, our Facebook(R) reunion a thing accomplished weeks ago. Kara was my very first, really real girlfriend, and we were both deeply involved with the theatre program at good ol' James W. Robinson Secondary (What the...?! When did they get that Georgetown-looking clock installed out front?). On the heels of my first high school immersion since attending, Kara and I caught up and reviewed our notes. There was surprisingly little talk of theatre, actually, possibly because Kara has in recent years moved on to other long-term activities. We focused instead on the delights of adult perspective on youthful dramatics, and on acknowledging that for all that additional perspective, we don't feel all that different from who we were when we met. These people we've been, they live on, and get added to. Like a good collaboration, the process of understanding oneself has a lot to do with finding agreement and building upon it. "Yes, and..."

It's good to have the opportunity to look back on the building, and forward to more of it. Wheresoever it may lead.

Madhubala With Her Daughters Ameya and Keia

After 2 years of courtship actress Madhubala (popularly known as Madoo) married industrialist Anand Shah on 19th February, 1999. Madhoo Shah then settled down into marital bliss with her two children seven year old Ameya and Five year old Keia.

North Pocono High: Day 5

It is done. Our five-day residency at North Pocono High School under the auspices of the NEIU wrapped today, and I must admit that it has been even more of a learning experience for me than I had anticipated. It's a good policy the NEIU has, of ensuring at least an initial five days' work for new rostered artists. It was coincidence that ETC had an association with Geri Featherby, and she snatched us up for these free (for the school, that is) introductory days. It may have a made things easier on us, ultimately, to be supported and endorsed by a teacher who knew so well what kind of work we had created, and what we could offer the school. I still feel that we learned an incredibly useful lesson or two about curriculum-building and teaching within a high school setting. Going in, I felt fairly prepared, backed up by years of experience teaching workshops to all manner of groups. Now I know how wrong I had been, and how much I've not only learned, but have yet to learn.

Wherever possible, we wanted to make today about pulling together the various experiences of the week into unified, practical application. The approach we took in the Shakespeare class was to put a lot of control into the students' hands. We began warming up before the period began, and spent very little time with it in the actual class period, in order to maximize class time for scene work. We divided them into their groups for their assigned scenes for Taming of the Shrew, then split them in two halves for Heather and I to work amongst. For approximately half an hour we moved from group to group, offering suggestions for the work they would present to their peers at the end of the period, emphasizing the lessons in specificity, improvisation and character-building that we taught throughout the week. I had three groups, and had to move rapidly between them. If it hadn't been so busy, it would have been frustrating, to have so little time. However, we saw progress, and at the end every group performed a part of a scene to good improvement. I watched and enjoyed, bitter-sweet with the desire to continue working with them, excited to think of Zuppa del Giorno's approaching foray into Shakespeare's world. At the end, we thanked them, and they thanked us back, all like fellow collaborators. I hope to see them again before too long.

The gym classes, of course, didn't have the same daily consistency of our other courses, so there was very little emotional context to our work for those two periods. We learned some good lessons on how to wrangle massive groups for acrobalance yesterday, and applied them to good effect. Both yesterday and today I used squat-thrusts for the initial warm-up, and noticed that these worked well if you didn't warn the students what they'd be doing. I asked them to squat, then go into a plank (or push-up position), then squat again and stand. Then I just did the same thing all together with a four count, and everyone quickly got the idea with a minimum of commentary. It helps with such exercises to be a little competitive with the teenagers. (Helps, that is, until the next morning.) Aptly enough, both classes were disrupted in one way or another. The first lost their seniors for a group picture, nearly halving our group size. Something of a relief, frankly, for at least my voice. At the end of the second class, a fire drill went off. Still, we got good training squeezed in there. Even if we didn't get to know our students much in these classes, we did become pretty friendly with the teachers, and that was very rewarding. I really feel there was a progress in which they were skeptical of us to begin with -- having very little information as to what to expect from us -- and ultimately came to be satisfied with what we had to teach and how effectively we did it. We discussed teaching techniques for such bizarre circumstances as only a P.E. class can offer, and a couple of the teachers even volunteered that they'd love to get a group to see The Very Nearly Perfect Comedy of Romeo & Juliet.

Exactly how to culminate our work in the acting class, our last class of the whole experience, was a subject of much discussion betwixt Heather and I. Ultimately, we agreed that it would be good to structure it as much as possible, but to hand the actual creation of a scene or scenes over to the students. We began them with another game, then worked on group counting up to 20 (in which they succeeded). Then we did some "Yes, and..." storytelling in a circle, in which each person contributes a line to a developing story. This ended up being a little superfluous to what they created, but it was our idea that they could use whatever story was told there for source material for their assignment. The assignment was to, within assigned groups ("assigned" because even by the end of the week clear divisions were visible in the class social dynamic), create a scene with a beginning, middle and end, incorporating one rhythm of three, one pratfall and specific first and last lines of spoken dialogue that would be the same for all groups. The topper was that they had only one minute to discuss this scene -- enough to sketch an outline, not enough to avoid improvisation. We did a couple of rounds of this. It was effective insofar as it got the students working together with a minimum of fuss and put an emphasis on improvisation as an acting tool. I still wanted to take them a little farther out of their safety zones, somehow, but have to concede that for many of them this is an ambitious goal for five days' work. I smiled a lot in their presentations, thinking of how much they had to offer to this work, how real they are when they are (however momentarily) focused on the problem at hand more so than their own insecurity. At the class' close, we thanked one another, and a couple of the students who had peeped maybe twice during the whole week went out of their way to say goodbye. I respect my teachers so much more today than I had before this experience.

I don't know what the future holds for the relationship between Zuppa del Giorno and the NEIU. It had been our hope that this partnership would allow us to enhance our presence in a community at large, and compensate us to a degree that made a full-time commitment to that outreach sustainable. However, the NEIU paid us for this initial contract as though Heather and I were a single artist, under the heading "Zuppa del Giorno." The pay is still decent (which just goes to show what a generous organization they are), but won't quite justify my continuous participation when weighed against the time spent away from employment in New York. So, unless we can reach a different understanding, Heather may be in large part taking over the practice of this particular branch of Zuppa del Giorno. I hope not, though. I hope not, because through this experience I can see the tremendous potential for taking our work to another environment and integrating it and ourselves. I hope not because this week has been tremendous for all involved, I believe, and I also believe it will only get better with more experiences. Most of all, it's simply wonderful to participate in discovery.

Aditya Panscholi and Zarina Wahab's Son Suraj

Aditya Panscholi met Zarina Wahab while working on a film called Kalan ka Tika and married her in 1986. They have a 21 year old daughter Sana and a son Suraj together.

North Pocono High: Day 4

This has been an incredibly physical day for us. I'd say it stands close to our rehearsal process for Legal Snarls for sheer continual physical work. (Though not even close to Silent Lives, for which we each became demi-gods of falling down, and from great heights.) In Shakespeare we worked on character archetypes, in P.E. we moved ahead into actual acrobalance instruction, which we continued into the acting class. Most exhausting, really, was the second gym class, for which we have somewhere from sixty to seventy students, the same class we had third period Monday. I could use a good, soothing cup of tea with lemon and honey. Fortunately, my only obligation tonight is dinner with Friend John Beck. I'll be sore in the morning, but not for lack of rest and placid recreation.

It was a fitful night of sleep for me, I confess. We were tackling a lot of new stuff today, and I suppose I was still riding out my left-over anxiety from yesterday's interruption. Heather and I allowed ourselves a slow internal warm-up in the process of getting coffee, getting there and getting into a constructive mental space. By the time our first class started filtering in, though, we had found ourselves again, and the class went great. Our sponsor there, Geri Featherby, happened to be there to observe, and wasn't disappointed by the physical characterizations we managed to coax out of that room full of teenagers. It's a lot of fun to explain to high schoolers that, yes, it's perfectly valid to try different things, to add their own interpretations to an ongoing cultural conversation. As we explained to them commedia tropes like the dottoring Dottore, full of hot air, and the greedy Pantalone's money-pouch placement (directly over his codpiece), they saw how free they were to interpret a character. Eventually we had a sort of runway demonstration of their contemporary takes on the archetypes. It was very funny, very original, very gratifying.

The P. E. classes were ones we had a lot of uncertainty about. How can we teach safe acrobalance to so many? You may recall that Friend Patrick and I had a similar class size at the KC/ACTF of 2007, but that was all college-age theatre enthusiasts. Here were we dealing not only with a mixed group of high-school ages, but ones who had neither heard of our work, nor had any immediate context for what we relatively strange persons were about to subject them. In acrobalance, there are inescapable challenges regarding trust. It seemed we had unintentionally set a similar challenge for ourselves and our students simply in proposing to teach them this skill. It went . . . great. Really. It did! My voice may be a little gravelly (read: extra sexy) for a week or more, but the students were attentive and interested and -- and this is really the best part -- daring. We just taught them an angel, the most core move of the style of acrobalance I learned, but that's plenty scary enough. And everyone had a go for at least one turn of basing, flying or spotting (potentially the most important position). Some tried more than one role. We had them in groups of four, created by first having them make a pair and then match themselves to another pair, which I strongly recommend. It saved time, and got people interacting as members of a team more immediately.

As I said above, the day ended with still more acro! This time with our theatre kids. We taught them a thigh stand (just to mix it up a bit), and I was reminded of how effective this work can be with ensemble-building. There are all different types in this class, and I suspect all different motivations for being there. In working on thigh stand, we did it all together, one pair at a time, with everyone else spotting in a tight circle. It was a great feeling. The pair was insulated by their peers, and in this way we managed to get some people to participate who might otherwise have quickly bowed out. I would have preferred that everyone try either flying or basing (a couple opted only to spot) but we had a majority anyway, and some tried both positions. At the end, there was a very good feeling of accomplishment in the class, which is something we've been struggling for most of the week with them.

Rest. Meatloaf (the food; not the music). Tiger Balm (TM). Tomorrow we close the show.

North Pocono High: Day 3

Today was, in many ways, unexpected. We ended up teaching two-and-a-half classes today, because just as we were ready to start the second period, the school went into a lock-down. I was confused by this; I'd never heard the term before. For those of you who haven't spent a lot of time around a high school in recent history, a lock-down is a sort of policy enacted in the interests of the students' safety in a time of crisis, or investigation. On notice, everyone goes into their respective classrooms and lock the doors. Well, one of these got timed for today in such a way that we missed out on teaching second-period Phys. Ed. class. To be fair, the announcement apparently informed people that they could continue teaching (it seemed it was simply for a drug check; they brought in drug-sniffing dogs), but they don't get all the announcements in the gymnasium and so we spent over an hour sitting, silent, instead. It's a good practice, given what can happen in a school these days. I was completely unaware of it prior to today.

Before all that, though, we had a great Shakespeare class in the auditorium. Our emphasis today was on the improvisation tenet, "When in doubt, breathe out," and we worked with the students on diaphragmatic breathing, enunciation and diction, and projection. I've been using horse stance to encourage the students to have a strong base for their breath, and they kind of hate it, but in a good, collective groan kind of way. It's working; they're really learning to relax the parts of their bodies they're not using, to ground themselves and deliver powerful voice from the diaphragm. After breathing drills and vocal warm-ups, we ran them through a diction drill, using:

"To sit in solemn silence
on a dull, dark dock,
in a pestilential prison
with a life-long lock,
awaiting the sensation
of a short, sharp shock
from a cheap and chippy chopper
on a big black block."

Then we practiced as a group throwing our voices to the back corner of the auditorium and delivering dialogue with power, before taking individuals up on stage with a line from their scene work and working them through clarity and intention in delivery. Heather and I would take turns coaching the student on stage and standing at the rear of the space, checking for clarity and projection. It was continued good work from this early group. Sadly, time got away from us again and we didn't get to everyone, but we made sure the rest of the class paid attention and practiced good audience habits. Hopefully some of what we do will stick, and they'll continue a practice. Tomorrow we plan to explore the use of character archetypes in Shakespeare (which I'm very much looking forward to), and we'll be back in the auditorium Friday to pull it all together.

Our one gym class was abbreviated to just barely a half an hour, so we kept the freshmen and sophomores in their street clothes and sped them through stretching and the most basic partner balances. Everyone was fairly hyperactive after the excitement/anxiety of the lock-down, but we managed to come together by the end of the half-period, and circle push-ups are always good for a bonding experience. We've ended every class thus far with this conditioning exercise. The way it works is that you have everyone in a circle (a rather large circle in our case) and put them in the "up" position of a push-up. When you tell them they only have to do one push-up, they relax a bit. When you tell them we're doing them one-at-a-time, and everyone must stay in the "up" position until we're through, they groan, but don't quite grasp just how hard they'll be working by the end. As it progresses, the energy builds, people moan and groan, but they're enduring together, so that by the end you can give them a choice: to keep it up, or join you in a set of ten or twenty push-ups more. Maybe this seems like torture to you, Gentle Reader? I can only say that, if you're there, you feel the camaraderie afterwards.

In our last class of the day, we revisited improvisation and set some new challenges for the students. We began with more team-building games -- group counting again, and blob tag. After a quick review of the improvisation principles, we set the students to two games: What Are You Doing? and Sit, Stand, Lie. In doing these, we asked them to remember to respond with a "Yes, and" attitude, and all that good stuff. WAYD is good for getting students to react impulsively, and rely on one another for their actions, and SSL reminds the participants that they need to pay close attention to one another if they hope to build a story together. The interesting thing about game play in this context is trying to keep the emphasis more on teamwork, less on competition. The games tend to teach themselves in this regard; they work better when people are working together. However, more inexperienced improvisers need encouragement to leave their safety zones, to trust their scene partners more and more . . . and still more. It was difficult to invite this observation in such a short time, but that's just the nature of a school day. If we get one thing across in our remaining days in this class, I'd like it to be a priority for fostering trust, for creating ensemble. Tomorrow we'll tackle this by way of acrobalance work. The physical can often be a quicker teacher than the conceptual.

Aditya Panscholi's Daughter Sana Talks About Being Detained After the Rave Party Raid in Mumbai

'It was a nightmare'
By: Shaheen Parkar
Date: 2008-10-08

I'm no fool: Sana Panscholi.
Picture: Rane Ashish

The 21-year-old daughter of Bollywood actors Aditya Panscholi and Zarina Wahab, Sana was among the revellers detained after the rave party raid at Bombay 72 East, Juhu. She feels the revellers with known surnames have been unnecessarily targetted and come under the scanner. The wannabe actress recounts her nocturnal outing that turned into a nightmare

For Technodrome
"I paid Rs 700 to attend the party as Israeli DJ Technodrome was to perform. He is supposed to be really good. I had heard a lot about him and as I love electronic music, I went along with a bunch of friends. My brother Suraj was not there with us. The bash was heavily advertised on Facebook and all my friends had received invitations.

Surprise raid
Initially, we were on the top floor where another bash was going on. It got over at about 10 pm and we went over to Alfredo's in the vicinity for a quick bite. At around 11 pm when I had just entered Bombay 72 East, suddenly all the exit doors were shut and we were told to line up as a raid was being conducted.

Didn't see nothing
It took us by surprise we were not doing anything wrong. It was just another harmless night out with pals. We were physically searched first and then all our belongings were searched. I was carrying this bag, which contained a box of sweets, they kept on sniffing at it as if they were drugs! They claim that the youngsters were taking drugs. I did not see anyone take Ecstasy pills or LSD.

Why target us?
Maybe some were but you can't target everyone. I am not a fool to smoke or take drugs. Or for that matter anyone else. When one does this, one needs to take care, don't we know the consequences? Now anyways smoking is banned at public places. The cops made us all out to be drug addicts. What proof did they have? Why target us youngsters and rough us up. Catch the drug peddlers, not us.

After the physical searches, all the girls were bundled into one police van and taken to JJ hospital. We were packed like cattle in a van, there must be at least 60 of us. We reached JJ at around 1 am where blood and urine tests were conducted.

Each one of us were asked several questions and made to sign numerous forms without even telling us what they were. We were at J J Hospital till 9 am and not even a glass of water was provided to drink. It was a nightmare.

All for music?
My mother is in Hyderabad. I did not call my dad because I did not want him to panic. I only called a friend of mine and told her what was happening. It was only when I reached home at 11 am the next day that I informed dad about the nightmare. I explained everything to him and all this was only because I happened to be there to listen to some great music."

As told to Shaheen Parkar
Article Source: Mid-Day
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