Watching a nightmare unfold

I was just shocked that nobody did a soundcheck prior to the show. The organisers pulled a scam on the city. Everyone knows about Bengaluru’s traffic woes, it’s not new.
Stand-up comedian Trevor Noah
Stand-up comedian Trevor Noah

BENGALURU: Murphy’s law Anything that can go wrong will go wrong – played out in full public view turning comedian Trevor Noah’s live standup show into a spectacle. Post the abrupt cancellation of both shows, artistes tell Dese Gowda what it takes to put together a live performance

Kirtana Kumar, thespian
I was just shocked that nobody did a soundcheck prior to the show. The organisers pulled a scam on the city. Everyone knows about Bengaluru’s traffic woes, it’s not new. And ensuring that the venue is suitably equipped is a basic priority that they didn’t manage to get right. Meanwhile, the space appears not at all suited for events like that. There are plenty of other spaces in the city that are better suited to standup comedy than a convention centre. If the priority was to sell as many tickets as possible, the minimum they could have done was to ensure that they soundproof the floors, and got the acoustics right at the same venue. The entire organisation seems ridiculous. 

Raghu Dixit, musician
The industry is generally good, and it’s only a few bad apples that spoil the scene for everyone. I can’t remember the last time a show was cancelled midway, because of bad acoustics. Having said that, I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary to have such issues, but it takes a certain kind of ethics to ensure the smooth running of such events. Bengaluru has been historically the favoured city for international acts coming to India. We’ve had so many bands come and perform here over the last year. But with such a high-profile event being held, there needs to be meticulous planning. For instance, the gates should have been opened earlier, the organisers should have coordinated with traffic police to ensure a smooth flow of traffic, not just for the people attending the event, but for everyone else in the city. This event was held within just a few months of it being announced, that’s not enough time. I’m already preparing for some of my concerts that will be held next year. You need at least six months of preparation.

Shankar Chugani, comedian
It was a perfect storm of unfortunate moments – horrible management, bad traffic – that led to the show’s cancellation. Especially since Bengaluru is such a cosmopolitan city with an excellent comedy scene, having someone like Trevor Noah perform here would have been amazing.  It’s especially embarrassing that this happened at a tech city that played a pivotal role in landing a rover on the moon. And it’s not like the city doesn’t have enough number of good auditoria, suitable for shows. Even Noah himself must have been very disappointed with the state of things, as he had had a great show in Delhi and he must have thought everything would run smoothly. But the organisers probably took a gamble which backfired horribly by hosting it at Manpho.  I hope this experience doesn’t lead to international artistes reconsidering coming here. But the opposite might also happen. This could serve as a lesson and people might step up their game and more and more artistes might come to the city.  

Prathibha Prahlad, dancer and festival director,  Delhi International Arts Festival
I’ve been organising cultural shows for decades now and I know personally that India has woefully inadequate infrastructure that can be classified as world-class. There are probably only a handful of places in the country, including Chowdiah Memorial Hall and Srihari Khoday Centre for Performing Arts in Bengaluru that can handle such events. Apart from these, artistes will have to deal with all kinds of stages that often don’t meet the basic technical requirements. Personally, when I was organising an Italian opera performance during the Delhi International Arts Festival a decade ago, I faced a similar situation. The auditorium we had booked wasn’t up to our standards and we had to supplement the facilities with external help. However, the organisers, in this case, are absolutely at fault for the events that transpired. I had never heard of Manpho before and a literal convention centre is not the right place to hold such a high-profile standup performance.

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