Gandhi’s girlfriend

I’m in a play! Not even on purpose!

Lately missing theatre strongly, and wanting to start/join some kind of group or run a workshop (which is in-planning-process) or direct a show. I even have some scripts picked out. Probably should get cracking. Probably not going to happen, but—

This weekend there’s a production going up in Kandy. That in itself is thrilling as we don’t get much of anything save school shows (cute, but…) and I bought my ticket like a month ago. I was psyched and had made minimal arrangements to meet the director. Then, yesterday, driverfriend Roshan calls me in the middle of the afternoon. Can you give a little help to this teledrama producer lady? he asked me. Sure, I said, confused. He hands the phone to a nice lady named Anoma, who tells me that she’s the director of the trilingual play Gandhi and she needs two foreign guys to be in it. Could I find some, darling? Of course I could try.

Except, damn, I know four foreign (i.e. white) guys in Kandy. Two are busy and two are leery. I meet up with Roshan and Anoma (who is playing Kasturbai, in the grand tradition of ‘all Sri Lankan directors must take large parts in their own plays’) and we discuss foreigner-culling tactics: the Pub? the internet cafes? Halfway through this strategy session she looks appraisingly at my chest and says to Buddhika, assistant director, we’ll have to give her a smaller top because Wiyelani’s will be too big. What?

It seems I am also getting collared into this production. (Jill’s comment: “I’m sure they had to twist your arm real hard.” Indeed, Jill.) I play Mirabehn, the English woman who gave up her comfortable middle-class life to become a zealous devotee of Gandhi’s ashram and his adopted daughter. It is thought that they also wanted each other In That Way, but never went for it given the ideals of the movement. A quick web search shows that she was determined, somewhat psycho, and good-lookin’ in a Gujarati sari. In my Method-trained-actor hat, I love this: “As [Mira] grew older, she learned all about the correct use of saws, hammer, screwdrivers, planes and chisels.” In my director hat, I can’t believe Anoma is adding actors three days before the show. We shall see. I am excited.

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