My experiences with Drama have been with school, University and amateur theatre groups. These drama experiences taught me team work, consideration for others, planning and organisational skills. My sense of creativity was further enhanced and I became uninhibited. I found it easier to talk to new people and I became spontaneous. These experiences made me a better person. I believe that children should be exposed to Drama and should be given the opportunity to participate in dramatic activities. My experiences at Drama were most enjoyable and taught me many skills and values. Punctuality and discipline are just two values that one cultivates when engaged in dramatic activities.

The World University Theatre Festival

In 1967, together with 7 others I represented our University at the World University Theatre Festival in Nancy, France. It was my first trip overseas and it was a great learning experience! To raise funds for the trip, we staged an adaptation of Errol John’s “Moon on the Rainbow Shawl” before leaving for France. In his message which appeared in the programme for the play production our Vice Chancellor acknowledged the many challenges that we had to face. He believed that the experience we would gain would “go a long way to help the cause of culture.” He added that “The unflagging enthusiasm in spite of tremendous odds, the determination and drive all deserve the highest praise.”

Travelling to Nancy, France

We took the cheapest flight and as expected, our sets did not arrive with us in Paris. We panicked! We had to tell the airline to send the sets to us in Nancy. From Paris we made our way to Nancy. Only one among us could speak a little French and we had problems communicating every where we went in France! We boarded a train from Paris to Nancy and we each had large items of baggage, much of which was for the production.

We settled comfortably in a cabin in the rear of the train. After a long time, we heard a number of announcements. The train at the time was moving quite rapidly. Worried, we asked someone about the announcements. We discovered, to our horror, that the section of the train where we were sitting would be left at a certain station while the rest of the train would make its way to Nancy. The stop at the station was a short one! Hence, we had to move to the front part of the train with all our baggage as the train was moving! And it was a long train. Picture us making our way through the train. I was terrified!

At the Festival

Nancy was a beautiful city. There were many Universities represented at the Festival. We were one big International community, a community focussed on Drama. Our group were shown the theatre where we would perform and we conducted rehearsals. We asked for a smoke machine to create some smoke effects. The technicians servicing us asked if we wanted a “grande fumee”. The first attempts with the machine only released a small amount of smoke. Hence during our play presentation we kept telling the technicians to make it a “Grande Fumee”. And a Grande Fumee was what we received! There was smoke everywhere and it bellowed into the theatre. The audience was shrouded in smoke and we, the actors on stage, could not see much.

Acting In A Film

In 1975, I played a small role in the film, The Paper Tiger. David Niven, Toshiro Mifune and Hardy Kruger starred in the film. This was the first time that I was paid for my acting skills. I was recruited by the Casting Officer. She had attended our production of Brechts’s “The Cuacasian Chalk Circle” at the University. She invited some of us to attend an audition. I met the Director of the film, Ken Annickin, and was given a very small role. My part was that of a guest at a cocktail party hosted by the Japanese Ambassador. The Secretary of State was the Guest of Honour. He was on the hit list of some terrorists who burst into the Reception Room and fired shots. They failed to shoot him and instead I was shot and fell backwards.

To add dramatic effect I was dressed in a white sari. The special effects staff spent some time explaining how the shot would be registered. They had a capsule of red liquid which they taped on my chest, on the left side. The capsule was linked to a detonator by a wire. The wire had to be discreetly hidden under my sari blouse. At the exact time of the shooting, the detonator would go off, the capsule would burst and my blouse would be ripped and the red liquid would pour out! On a white sari the red liquid had a very dramatic impact! Ah but here was my problem! The wardrobe mistress had only two saris for me and she had to think of other ways of tying the sari in case I reacted too fast or too slow and had to act my scene a number of times. Fortunately for me I made it on the second take! The Director was happy and my work was done!

I had a contract for three days work and the salary was very good for me, a struggling post-graduate student at the time!I discovered that on the film set most of the time one had to sit and wait. Each scene was shot by the second and it was very tiring! The film company fed us well and we had many meals throughout the day. This included a three course meal for lunch.

Opera Production

Besides the theatre and film I was also involved in an opera production and this was an operetta by Johann Strauss in 1985. I was the Drama Assistant for this production. Music, Drama and Dance in one production. It was just fabulous!

Drama Excites

When we engage in Drama, our life brims with passion, excitement, joy and hope! I urge everyone to embrace the intellectual and stimulating benefits which Drama provides!

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