A Directors Diary – Why Cat’s Paw??

This is my first post as part of the Directors Diary:
(do read and leave a comment; or a critic)

Cat’s Paw was first offered to me by William in mid 2006, when I was in the process of staging “THE AFGHAN WOMEN”. The first reading was done in a rush. The dialogues were dramatic, thought provoking and put together in very contemporary and ideal set – up. As such, the play was ideal for any type of audience.

A couple of readings convinced me as a director to stage the play. That and of course, if Bill gives it to me, then it should be good. But how would the audience take it? After all it is for them that we are staging the play right? Most importantly, the dreaded critics. They would probably mince the whole thing into chutney and then you would probably be scared for the next few months before you pick up another script. Especially when you are a kind of person who is highly sensitive and a bundle of emotions all the time. Should these be the criteria for decision making??

The other dreaded most question I had to face from people was, “ITS AN AMERICAN SET- UP!!” and “ITS AN AMERICAN PLAY. PEOPLE WILL NOT UNDERSTAND.” So, I’m thinking; aren’t we allowed to exercise our creative art and work on something that we are good at, instead of trying to stage something I cannot relate to at all. Now, I’m not Americanized in any way. It has nothing to do with Americanization of a script and I don’t intend to appear so. The truth is, it is all about if you can be honest about a script. Can you understand the psychological aspects that come with it and the words written in between the lines… (its a long theory and I would like to spare you all the agony of going through yet another lecture)

A play is a play, is a play. It is American, Indian, Chinese, Japanese etc because the play is written by the playwright who is best able to describe it in its context. Ethnic backgrounds and culture, even language adds flavours and ideas to a particular situation which we probably can never decipher. It is like staging a musical; where you have to understand, research and formulate plans to ensure that justice is done to that script which you have in your hand. For me, it was an opportunity to understand another frame of mind and educate myself about people around the world. (Yeah, there is news on TV, lets move beyond it)

This is where culture and traditions transcend to accept and understand something beyond who we are as individuals and as a society.

So. A play is a play, is a play. Which means; it is just a play. I like it, I think I can do justice to it. We live in a global set- up where I want to reach out to other sides of the planet and see what everyone is up to. I want to see how theatre in another world addresses their own causes and immediate critical situations; when compared to how we script our own plays on our own issues at the same time.

On the other hand, theatre is a mode of expression. The audience wants to be entertained. They want something that is not only glamorous but me thinks, something which is genuine. With this thought I would like to pick up a script which I can be honest with first. Critics (not referring to journalists; hell, I’m a journalist, so :P.. everyone who suffers with an obsessive compulsive disorder to judge and criticise furtively is a critic) wonder why my plays are American. The audience can only be entertained when I am capable of entertaining; and I can only entertain when I know the subject I am using as a medium to entertain.

For example, you will never catch me tell a joke. I am not a funny person. I don’t understand funny. I probably won’t laugh if you cracked a joke or if we went to a comedy or did anything funny. Therefore I shall stay away from trying to do anything funny. Because funny is not what I do. So, tomorrow if you say why don’t you stage a comedy and me buckling under pressure trying to entertain people with what they want, do funny. The results will be anything but funny. The “critics” would say, she should stop being funny…. wasn’t that my idea in the first place??

All said and done; I have the most respect for this script, which I am working on right now. In fact I have been working on it close to two years now. I need that much time for a script to settle down in my head. Sometimes, its less… but less has never come by.

All I know is everywhere I go and anyone I talk to; emotions are the same. They work with the same Earnest zeal and they are all human. Only the lifestyle and culture varies. Why should that stop me from reaching out and understanding what makes us one?

Why should ‘who I am’ stop me from discovering ‘who you are’?
Why should ‘who you are’ stop me from discovering ‘who I am’?

– Puja Goyal

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