Like other forms of entertainment, live theatre constantly evolves. Both practitioners and audiences seek out the new and unconventional. Experiential theatre occupies a blurry realm where the distinction between audience and performer may disappear, and even the distinction between fiction and reality may seem uncertain. The 4th wall breaks down leaving both the audience and performer vulnerable to every obstacle and hazard. Instead of allowing spectators to just sit back and contemplate a play, experiential theatre grabs its audiences and forces them to confront and accept the reality of the feelings shown to them. Humour Me did just that for Dr. Mark Kurtser - the founder and chairman of MD Medical Group and his family. His little daughter Anna was turning 9 and he wanted an experience like none other. He also warned us that his daughter had the comprehension of a bright 16 yr old so it must look real. Well Humour Me decided take them out on a unforgettable, monumental and historic journey.
Day 1 - 9.30 pm
The Journey started at the City Palace Jaipur where the family was attending a lavish Rajasthani wedding. Our Actor, Mr Smith disguised as a fictional professor of Archeology from Edinburgh University was stationed at the periphery of the Baraat. To meet even one person at this delicate juncture would sully the whole enterprise. But our actor was in luck when he located Mr Mark Kurtser and his family. After escorting them through the Palace the group made their way to the Courtyard where the family was showcased with some of the finest performances by Gulabo Sapera who featured in the reality television show Big Boss (season 5). Her troupe kept the audience on their toes with their jaw dropping, spike balancing firework acts.
With a bottle of Moses (Vodka) half touched and a dozen chicken skewers chewed to the stick, the dazzled and 'high spirited' Russian family made their way to the royal banquet hall. Dozens of the courts royal servers zipped around busy buzzing their way about maintaining the highest of decorum and class. Remember each and every person present here is an actor! After exchanging a few social graces, the plot of the adventure was laid down before the family who were requested to investigate into the disappearance of an ancient artifact said to have mystical and magical powers.
Mr Smith - "It is feared that a tribe of savage Kali worshiping cannibalistic babas called the Aghoris representing the right hand of God were at large seeking out the stone for themselves."
On over hearing this news our second actor 'Chacha Chatur' a devious, nefarious and overweight Uncle of the Maharaja, next in line to the throne sneakily squeaked his presence beside the unsuspecting group. Accusations and threats were fired from one end of the silver crystal table to the other with the uncle blatantly denying the information as just rumour crafted to scare away the innocent foreigner. Just when matters could not get any worse the doors slowly yawned open to reveal the Maharajah, his 10 Imperial guards in all their splendor, glam and glory. Remember, all actors. Everyone jumps up to receive him without making direct eye contact. The 10 yr old Maharajah makes his way slowly to the head of the table generously addressing the family with a princely nod. After everyone took their respective seats the Maharajah urged the family to help the now drunken Mr. Smith (clutching onto his glass of neat whiskey) on his quest to find the missing Artifact. Anna, the daughter of our client, a chirpy little 8 yr old, is now in complete awe of his majesty and urges her Father to follow through with the request. The actors start to slowly dissolve into the background leaving the family to continue with their lavish Rajasthani dinner. DAY 1 - Success.
Day 2 - 8.00 am
Mr Smith and his majesty's translator barged into the family's room. "The Maharajah has been taken and we need your help, a clue left behind at the crime scene is our only lead" were their words in short! Bread sticks begin to snap, finger smear at the neck of a wine glass and Mr Kurtser himself begins to tour the breakfast table with his fake sense of urgency on hearing the news. Anna now favors a childish impatient pace, skipping and dawdling about in her shorts ready to help and save the day.
Everyone jumps into their respective luxury cars and were zipped off to Fort Kanota where all the madness is yet to unfurl. At the entrance of the fort, 2 actors manned the spiky door. Getting past the grunts and the 14 foot metal door was a breeze. An unsuspecting guard lay snoring with a thumb on the pulse and a finger on the trigger. A darkness begins to set over the fort, wild langoors start to scream... something is not right! "Lets kill a few bottles of vodka and bugger the consequences eh" was the father's advice. The sound of venomous snakes hissing along to their melodious drunken masters start to saturate the air. Everyone runs past the badly lit, cob-webbed abyss of snake charmers to the roof. The real Indian experience is at hand and nobody likes it. Just when everyone thought they were in control, the chanting of devilish mantras sent a chill down their spine. The eerie passage way led to a smoky room laden with skulls, bones, white-bearded Aghori babas and Chacha Chatur himself possessed in a epileptic trance. A rusty key dangles above him shrouded in thick incense smoke. The objective - to retrieve the key without disturbing the ritual. Mr. Kurtser, a 6-foot giant, wasn't the most adept for stealth but he huffed and puffed his way through the smog to attain the key. The air felt heavier still, blood pressures were rocketing off but everyone breathed a sigh of relief after the little challenge. It's NOT OVER! Our beloved kidnapped Maharaja was tied up on the roof yelling for help. Mr Smith started to lead the family to the horrific cries when 2 guards of the palace (Actors) charged in for a death-defying high action packed, throat-ripping, bone-splitting, hair-raising, gut-wrenching sequence. This was a bit too much for little Anna who dashed off towards the cab. Mr Kurtser chuckled and shot a thumbs-up at the hidden CCTV cameras. Our mission was almost complete but still a success.
The family were informed to rendezvous with Mr Smith at a village nearby. After rescuing the Maharaja and escaping the clutches of Chacha Chatur's men, Mr Smith dashed off in his car to meet up with the shell shocked family. On reaching the Village 50 actors positioned as villagers jumped up to their feet yelling praises ... their Fictional princely Maharaja has returned. The missing stone was handed over to the village chief who showered the family with flowers and gifts. A huge trunk full of jewels was handed to Anna by the Maharaja. We wished her (It was her birthday after all) and congratulated Anna for her bravado and courage. Everyone parted their own separate ways leaving the family with a story they could talk about for years to come. The day was saved and all could return back to the way things were.