Actor Sumeet Vyas shot to fame playing Mikesh Chaudhary in the web series Permanent Roommates.
On August 31 at Delhi’s Pyarelal Auditorium, Vyas took up another challenge, acting in the absurdist play, titled Red Rabbit White Rabbit, by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour.
This staging was part of the ongoing Delhi Theatre Festival, organised by Alchemist Live. Excerpts from the interview:
With no guidance by a director, not even a script, what made you say yes to Red Rabbit White Rabbit?
I had heard about this play before. My friends have attempted this. I was very keen to watch it but couldn’t watch it. The deal is if you have watched it before, you can’t perform it. Now I am glad that I missed it as I could perform it. So I was really intrigued and said yes to it. And after saying yes to it, I got really nervous (laughs).
Could you give us a sense of your life when you were learning the craft?
I like telling stories. In the past, I’ve stepped into the shoes of a director as well as the writer.
I have done set design, lighting for the stage, among other things. The first lesson we were taught at Ekjute, a theatre company run by Nadira Babbar, my guru, was that the actors are not very special people.
So besides acting, each one of us took on several responsibilities concerning the forthcoming play.
What are the kinds of characters you are waiting to play?
Characters not even remotely connected to my personality would be my preference. I think that’s where all the fun begins.
Among the playwrights, whose work do you enjoy the most?
Badal Sircar, Mohan Rakesh, Girish Karnad and in the younger lot, there’s Manav Kaul and Abhishek Mazumdar doing fascinating works. Among the international names, I like Neil LaBute, Neil Simon and George Bernard Shaw. I enjoy their plays.
Are you able to distance yourself from a character?
Let me tell you how it is for a stage actor. When you are preparing for the play you are really into it. And when you have had the first run of it, you have enough time to get out of it. But the trickier part is when the show keeps running over the years.
Like, I opened The Park written by Manav Kaul in 2007. And again, two days ago I did a show on it. Notice it’s about 12 years since the first run. I was in my early 20s then, and now in my early 30s. In between, I have seen so much life happen. The lines, emotions etc. means so much more to you, and that’s where things get jumbled up.
Do you like the mess it creates in the mind?
To be very honest, we actors want it. We thrive on it. Actors don’t like things going normal. I don’t think it’s a curse, it’s a blessing. You get to be someone else.
I’ll tell you a quote from a story by Paulo Coelho. ‘When an actor does a show and comes back home, he is not the same person. And that’s not a bad thing.’
So there is no need to distance yourself from the part you play. All your life you thrive to be as close to the character as you possibly can. So I don’t feel the need to distance myself from the characters I play. I am an amalgamation of all the characters.