When I went to college to study Computer Science at BITS, Pilani, located in a remote village of Rajasthan, I never expected the remoteness of the place to exceed the extent of not having a cinema hall. How could we sustain an existence of 4 years without the staple Indian diet of bollywood movies? Thankfully BITS fostered a strong sense of multi-cultural living, in addition to of-course studying computer science. So enough and more emphasis was laid on participating in variety of activities like college fests, theatre, photography, dance, music etc. through the form of various clubs.
Theatre was a special attraction especially because of the stardom which senior actors from the Drama Club had gained. I got my first “break” when I played the role of a juror in the classic “Inherit the Wind”. It did not matter that I had to sit on stage through the 2 hours of the play and just say one line..! The stage bug had bitten me.
When I moved in to Bangalore to pursue my career post graduation, theatre took a backseat but not for long. The urge to be stage was strong and hence a few of us college buddies got together and strung together a so-called “theatre group”. Our first performance was on the corridors of the Bangalore Planetarium to an audience largely of family and friends. The temporary stage did not matter, the ball was set to roll. The process on theatre indulgence had been initiated and group “Version one dot Oh!” was thus formed. The name of the group just reflected the clout which we “software guys” wielded in the group..!
Over the last 4 years, Version One dot Oh! (VODO) has grown leaps and bounds over the 8 productions and more than 30 shows it has undertaken while steadfastly building a reputation as a group with a young appeal. While constantly trying to explore various genres, VODO has always placed a high degree of value on keeping the entertainment quotient for the audience high. If it was the depiction of the plight of Italian workers during the 1970s shown rather in a funny manner in Dario Fo’s “Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay!”, then Sriranga’s “Listen! Janamejaya” (a translation of the Kannada Original “Kelu Janamejaya”) presented a contemporary look at the insides and the outside of man through the four phases of the kala-chakra.
A high point in the group’s profile was the winning of the “Young Directors Theatre Festival Award” conducted by Art Mantram and Bangalore Bias for Sriranga’s “Shadows in the Dark” (translation of Kannada version called “Kattale Belaku”) directed by Srikrishna in mid-2006. The group has also travelled with its productions to places like Dharwad and Mumbai winning appreciation for its performances there.
Over all these years, a committed team of full-time theatre professionals as well as “i-like-to-do-this-too” kind of people like me have shaped what is Version One dot Oh! We have lawyers, journalists, students, theatre/TV actors and of course software professionals amongst the members of the groups. We try to poach whatever things possible from our homes and homes of friends which appeal to our eyes as props. The environment for resurgence of theatre as a creative medium has largely been helped by spaces like Rangashankara and Alliance Francaise. We, as a group are experiencing this in form of increased audience interest and interest among people wanting to join us in our group.
Vikram Rai: 98455 01929, Naveen Swamy: 98452 33788
contactvodo @ gmail.com
Our next performance (8th production of VODO) of the Vijay Tendulkar classic “Silence! The Court is in Session” (English version of the Marathi original “Shantata! Court Chalu Aaahe”) is scheduled for a showing on 25th (Friday) and 26th (Saturday) at the Alliance Francaise. This play premiered to packed shows when it debuted in April and also garnered very good reviews. This heady combination of popular and critical acclaim is what pushes us to every next production. The road ahead promises to be very bright indeed. We probably should consider renaming ourselves as Version Nine dot Oh! ⊕