The queen of reclaiming her alter ego, our beloved Anu Menon takes on this Green Room Diaries and shows how having a voice has very little to do with how extroverted you are.
Menon speaks about all things theatre and her experience with formal training at East 15, London. From imaginary mountains to conquering her stage fright, she beautifully describes the arcs and the methods that helped her become who she is.
Her love for the stage is evident as she speaks about her priorities and the relevance it holds in her life. She is a firm believer of the art form and the amount of faith she has in original stories being told, and the same is reflected in her choices. Her fresh perspectives are sure to give you a peek into the mind of a sincere theatre actor one that can dapple many mediums and excellently so.
She speaks fondly of the theatre culture and the safe space it provides which goes to say that she clearly does not believe that it is dying.
How and why Theatre?
I was a very quiet child, like painfully quiet and I used to come back and inflict my stories of the day to my mother and my mother said “You know I think it’s high time you go for that school audition” and I was like no I’m going to mess it up, I’ll forget my lines on stage and under dire threat really I was like okay fine I can’t be embarrassed I will go myself. And so at fourteen was when I first stepped on stage and like they say that was the beginning of everything.
Tell us more about your formal training in theatre.
At that time going to drama school seemed sort of like a pipe dream and I didn’t even realize it was a possibility. But then I put in my applications and went to London to E15 and did my Masters in drama school. We went you know climbing through imaginary mountains, reading through imaginary waters, breathing through your bottom. There are things you can’t explain to anyone else because only madcaps like you would understand it. They give you various methodologies right? You choose what works for you. What do I want from this scene? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? It gives you an arc, gives you a few exercises. Is it necessary? Of course not, but I definitely do believe it helps and it helped me.
You act and perform in different mediums. How does your preparation for a role change with each medium?
There’s this film that I was supposed to do with this sort of biggish actor and they kept changing the dates. From June it became July, July to August, August to September. 10th September was the only date I have a problem with and they need only that date.
And I was like “Can we change it?”
They said “You know this actor really wants to work with you, can you do something?”
I said “But I have given this date for a play” and they said “Can’t you adjust madam?” and I was like “Can’t you adjust? Can’t you get the location?”
He couldn’t comprehend that I had a prior commitment on stage and why would I be sticking to that as opposed to be working with this actor.
Your film or your television or everything else supports and funds your theatre habit. The good thing is that there’s lots of original writing that’s coming out now. I think gone are the days where we want to listen to Sam and Sarah. We want to listen to you know Satish and Meena, our own voices, and that makes a difference.
Is Indian Theatre dying or evolving?
I don’t think any live performance is a dying because there will always be patrons. It’ll definitely have to evolve right? And it already is. There’s so many people interested, so many young people who want to do workshops and so much more funding coming in and corporate funding and training programs and it’s now a part of corporate training as well.
I don’t ever believe that it can die because there are too many of us who love it and too many of us who do it for the love of it. There is a bonding and a bonhomie and a camaraderie that you will never find so because it’s a dream for a lot of people, I don’t think the end is in sight.