Category Archives: Performance

The Showwoman Under The Paper Plane

It turns out I have a showwoman in me, once I let go of the painful things keeping me inside stage fright. Last Monday, I performed Paper Plane, my first ever piece and my guiding philosophy.

It gave me the impetus to do CoffeeShop, which people have really liked and I have a lot of fun doing. Enjoy! And thank you for the love.Β The only thing I love more than making people think is doing so with a laugh. πŸ™‚

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

And Then There Was Music

I sang today.

Actually it’s the second time this week. Earlier this week, I met a friend visiting from out of town at what turned out to be a karaoke event. I sat through an hour of people rollicking in songs I did not recognize, trying hard not to feel outdated and irrelevant. And then my group picked out a nostalgia track that took me back to when singing was fun.

"Am I the only one? Am I sexual?" feat. @febwinsta and @abhishekaggy

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

In case you’re wondering….the original:

Just before it was time to leave, something swung into place. A new year I realised, new resolutions, new promises and all that means the old burdens don’t exist any more or don’t have to matter anymore. The microphone is not new to me anymore and with karaoke, you don’t really expect anyone to be superlative in their mastery of the song or even memory of the lyrics. I chose this slightly (now) obscure song to pay tribute to the Angry Girl I started off as at seventeen. And it was good.

Today was Tuning Fork’s first challenge of the year. They had us write a piece in an hour to a prompt and just before going up on stage, they told us we’d have a predefined mood to render the performance. I started in fits & jerks, picking pieces of pretty lines and unfinished poetry from my stash. Then I decided to set those aside and go with a story that’s been lurking in the back of my lungs, waiting its turn while my voice, throat and mind got comfortable on stage.

This was the story I told. And the mood I picked was ‘Happy’ which felt like 2017 continues to be on my side and help me stay well, happy. I just listened to my performance and I’m so happy there’s still music inside me.

It feels like I’m seeing someone I’ve known all my life in a new light. Thank you for the music and the microphone. 2017, I thank you for your gifts.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

On Losing A Voice And Remembering How To Speak Again

This Monday I said two conflicting things within the space of an evening.
I said,

“This is my favorite stage to perform.”

Two hours later I thought,

“I’m not coming back here again.”

Let me tell you a thing or two about performing, about writing, about women’s voices and about men, men, men. The silencing, the hatred, the chauvinism, it’s relentless. It’s pretentious non-talents (usually male, small town North Indian origin) parading ada and fake Urdu to present stale ideas. It’s uber urban metrosexual men getting intoxicated and turning everything into jokes that are not really funny. It’s the in-betweens eating Instagrammable food and hoping you’ll swipe right on Tinder. But this is nothing new. It’s the story of every patriarchal, toxic masculine space.

But it’s also the sniping. It’s old boys’ clubs jeering every woman performer. It’s leching that happens in words and laughter rather than eyes so it’s harder to call it out. It’s passive-aggressive bullying of the “Settle down, honey. There, there, she got upset. Now silence, boys, give her a hanky. Look, you’re so pretty when you smile.” variety.

Then it’s the wheedling by ‘Nice Guys’ to speak softer, be gentler, talk about men’s good points.

This Monday was simply the last straw on my back. I decided to let them keep their male voices, talking to a male audience about how women are pretty/horrible creatures. This Monday, I decided not to go back and to hell with a world ruled by monsters called men.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Raju recommended Sonya Renee Taylor’s ‘The Body Is Not An Apology‘ at an Alphabet Sambar meet last month.

This isΒ why writers should first and foremost be readers. And speakers should be better listeners. I found Sonya’s powerful voice and gestures moving me as much as her words.

Today, I listened to her deliver ‘When The Shotgun Questions The Black Boy‘. Now this is a tricky one. While it’s politically correct to talk about #BlackLivesMatter, really what’s it like to be Indian on this? We faceΒ internalised racism within our country itself, not to mention what it’s like to be brown in multicoloured spaces. My ex bullied me and demeaned my intelligence frequently for not acting or thinking like a black person. But this poem, today, made me want to cry. It reached beyond what he said, what anyone else demanded I think or feel. It moved me beyond who I thought I was.

ThisΒ is the power of good poetry and a good performer. It can change perspectives. It can make a person reach beyond their life and feel empathy, inspiration, anger, whatever the speaker wants them to feel.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. But it’s sobering to know that as a performer, I share a space withΒ people who change lives. I cannot let my individual annoyances take me away. As one of the few women performers in the city, I owe the stage at least that much.Β Artists and writers are responsible for moving thought forward for a civilisation. The world needs more women’s voices. I may not be the best but I’m part of the little that my city has. And I’m not going to let them down.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

A Digital Native In Chinchpokli: My Spoken Stories

I found this post in my Drafts folder. I wrote it in August and forgot to publish. Two of my performances that I’m very happy about, performed at my favorite venue.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Monday was a peaceful, friendly evening at the Tuning Fork. I’ve been on a deliberate destress drive and I find I’m able to write better and enjoy listening to other people’s poetry more. I performed a piece I call ‘Native Digital’.

I was one of the early performers. One of the other performers read a piece about finding Goa in Andheri East. It was so warm, so wistful and real, I wanted to share one of my own colour-in-the-ordinary stories of my own. So I brought up ‘Flamingos’.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

The Stage Was My Doorway Out

I’ve had a rather nice September after the rough times before that. Looks like my health diagnosis was a step in the right direction. I took a break from the Open Mic scene for a month which is why there haven’t been too many poetry videos. But if you saw this post, you’ll know September brought me a bouquet of special poetry performances. That this happened right during a time I decided to take a break itself seems like a sign from the universe to me. And living through them makes me sure. I feel like I’ve finally walked through the doorway of that dark, deep dungeon I’ve been imprisoned in for years.

So, in the order in which they happened:

Gaysi‘s DirtyTalk was the one that I wrote a special piece for. I was super nervous, not helped by anΒ unexpected Encounter, minutes before my performance. Maybe I will write about that in more detail another time. Or maybe not, it was probably the fullstop that I’ve been needing for four years. I went on to deliver the following performance and it was a great one, if I do say so myself.Β I really want to thank the organisers as well as the audience. You have no idea how much this performance was a turning point in my life. It was reprieve after years of struggling.

The very next afternoon was the Radiocity Free Verses feature event, where I had the pleasure to meet the vivacious Harnidh Kaur who I’ve been hearing about for ages. I enjoyed her poetry. I wasn’t feeling very well and my hands were shaking (after a long time). But again, I think that added to the flavour of my opening piece ‘A Lover of All Things Digital’. It’s nice to remember how far I’ve come from a stage-petrified girl to a feature performer.

And finally, I got to be one of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change at a ‘Women Empowerment’ themed event hosted by the US Consulate at Kitabkhana. I know a theme like that seems tailor-made for me so I brought out my old favorites ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Feminist Poetry’. I am enjoying being the fun, irreverent, fresh end of things. I don’t think I’ve been the fun side of any group that often. I wish I were also the funnier side but that’s for another blogpost. Here’s my performance from that day.

Planet Radiocity Freedom aired my recorded performance four times this month. Eventually, they’re bound to put it up in the archives and I’ll share a link then. In the meantime, they also ran a short interview with me and the photo feature from the Free Verses September event is up on the site right now.

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For a lot of reasons, I feel like I was carrying around a gigantic boulder in my mind that was blocking everything. That boulder has just been set aside. I’m still raw from where it was dragged out. But I can suddenly breathe better and see more clearly. September has been about clearing the stones and letting the dust settle. I have been to hell and back. I enter October with a lot of hope and a nod to the Sandman.

hope

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

 

Come September, Feature Month

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I’ve been off the Open Mic scene this month. I decided to take a break to rest my frayed nerves and also my voice. But happily, poetry happens all around and it happened to me in a big way.Β I have the happy privilege of being a feature performer at threeΒ different events this month.

Gaysi DirtyTalk

First, on Saturday is a scheduled line-up for Gaysi’s DirtyTalk. I had the good fortune to be around during the inception of this blog which has grown to be India’s foremost online voice of the LGBT community. The annual DirtyTalk event started years ago and the quality of their performers has been superlative. I never had the confidence to attempt a performance there, even though the Gaysi folks have been super warm and welcoming (I’ve stuck to my safe space of words from behind a screen). But this year and all these adventures later, I nudged them and asked if I may be considered. To my thrill (and now, oh god, panicpanic), they agreed.Β The eventΒ has a line-up of 13 performers and I’m one of them! I promise you, it’ll be an evening of glitzy colour and spicy words and yiiiiii I get to be one of them.

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Date: Saturday, 17 Sept
Time: 6:30PM
Venue: Link Room, Above Starbucks, near Linking Road, Bandra West
Tickets: Rs.400
Event page:Β https://www.facebook.com/events/1120545671373812/

RadioCity FreeVerses

The fun continues into Sunday when I get to be one of the three features at RadioCity’s FreeVerses live poetry event.

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Date: Sunday, 18 Sept
Time: 1:30PM-2:30PM
Venue: Monkey Bar, near Linking Road, Bandra West
Tickets: Free entry
Event page:Β https://www.facebook.com/events/1774041326189337/

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Also, last month,Β Planet RadioCity invited me to record for their Freedom show. My poetry will be up for listening in a couple of weeks. Interesting experience that, being inside a radio studio. I’ll write more about this when the recording comes up.

100 Thousand Poets ‘Readings on Women Empowerment’

And finally, the US Consulate invited me to be one of their line-up for the 100 Thousand Poets event in Mumbai.

Date: Friday, 23Β Sept
Time: 5:30PM-7:30PM
Venue:Β KitabKhana, Flora Fountain, Churchgate
Tickets: Free entry
Event page:Β https://www.facebook.com/events/620714031440915/

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I have a different set planned for each event. And at every one of these three events, I’ll be sharing the stage with some very prolific and diverse performers.Β If you enjoy poetry, if the spoken word tickles you, if performance charms you or even if you just love me, please come to any one or all of them.

A big thank you to Anuja Parikh, MJ (you know who you are), Shalin Choksi and Rochelle Potkar for making this such a wonderful September for me!

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onTwitterandΒ Instagram.

 

Shaping Spaces & Relationships: The Poetry Club @ Theosophy Hall

The Poetry Club tied up with the French Consulate to host a poetry workshop and Open Mic at the Theosophy Hall. They also did this last year after the COP21 conference where they asked attendant poets to write about environmental change. The piece that I wrote for that event was called ‘Climate Change‘. I can’t seem to find a recording so I guess I didn’t make one.Β This weekend, I brought up a more recent piece that I’ve been working on, one that’s more performance poetry than spoken word. And here it is, ‘Architect‘.

I’ve been missing the TPC monthly events since they moved out of cosy Vakoloft. But I’m going to try and get to more of their meets. It’s always wonderful meeting and hearing performer/poets like Saurabh Jain, Ramneek Singh, Trupthi Shetty and Ankita Shah. In addition to hearing some really quality poetry, I really like the mood that they bring to these events. These were the early Indian performers that I saw and interacted with and I’ve seen them shape and evolve alongside me. They’ve each managed to grow but also encourage and nurture the upcoming community (unlike some other venues/events). And finally, as a club, they come up with some really innovative events involving poetry. Watch for more soon.

*Β If you enjoyed this performance poetryΒ post in video, check out my other performances on this blog or follow the ‘Ideas on Stage‘ playlist on my Youtube channel.

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New Spaces But The Stage is Always Home

I’m always looking for new spaces, venues and people in poetry. I’m a very social creator and I find my creative juices flowing with novelty and fresh perspectives. So when I heard about an Open Mic being organised at the Mumbai metro, I jumped to it! Spoken Word derives from several disciplines (right from the African bushmen’s storytelling to the American frontiersmen’s tall tales to Indian village streetplays – many of which are street performances). I saw this as a chance to do the same in a more contemporary setting. I was rather hoping that we’d be performing in one of the public spaces at a metro station, with people passing by. Instead they had cordoned off one small area at Ghatkopar metro station. Still, it was just as noisy and bustling, with a flea market across the bridge and planes flying overhead (who knew Ghatkopar was in any flight path?).

I opened with a revamped version of Flamingos, given it is my only real piece about the city. I’m going to keep refining this one till it becomes the story I want to tell.

We had time for seconds so I went in with Paper Plane, which is not only my go-to signature piece but also the gift that keeps giving. It gives me a shot of energy, a life lesson every time I perform it.

After that Gautam and I went on to another Open Mic we had heard about at another place. This one turned out to be primarily for actors. It was heart-warming to see such spaces available to all the performing arts. A lot of us tend to take a very condescending attitude towards actors and dancers. Jokes abound about ‘the Aram Nagar strugglers association’. But in becoming a performer, I realised how much generosity of spirit, how much strength and courage is required to take pieces of your soul, turn it into art and hold it up for the world to be cruel about. My respect for the other performing arts has been renewed.

The folks at Kabeera presents were very welcoming even though poetry is not acting. I was a bit worried since I am an English performer and there is a minor form of linguistic racism at work in poetry circles. But one of the audience members actually spoke up and said,

“Why are we assuming such things? We are all artists here. Art goes beyond language and other boundaries.”

And true to form, they were really very receptive when I performed Paper Plane.

I’ll be going back there if they’ll have me and even if only to watch their performances. What a lovely Sunday it was!

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onΒ TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

 

Quoted In HT Cafe: ‘A Shot In The Dark: Why Artistes Love To Perform With The Lights Out

HT Cafe carried a story by Sapna Mathur on darkroom performances in Mumbai. I was quoted for my spoken word poetry. They were also nice enough to include a video of my collaboration with Karthik (performed in the light, so you can see) of the same act we did during the darkroom event – Lullaby.

The story is called A shot in the dark: Why artistes love to perform with the lights out‘.

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Conversations can crystallize your own impressions and Sapna’s questions made me think about my craft a lot more deeply. Here are the things I said –

“Ramya Pandyan, a Mumbai resident who has been attending open mics since 2009, says she started participating in blind poetry shows because they offered her anonymity. They also made her more aware of her craft. β€œThe biggest distinction between the performing arts and other art forms is that there is no barrier between the artiste and the audience. With writing, you feel a certain safety behind the computer screen or notebook. But when you’re on stage, you are naked and vulnerable in front of the audience and their judgement. But a dark room levels this playing field,” she says, telling us that she’s even recited her poem, Lullaby, to live music in the dark. β€œOnce you get used to the darkness, you feel a certain warmth and closeness with the people who are in that room with you. You can hear people breathing, shifting and fidgeting. We tend to listen to each other better β€” both the audience and the performers,” adds Pandyan.”

“During her regular shows, where the lights were switched on, Pandyan had become used to finding encouragement from some β€œfriendly faces” in the crowd. But trying her hand at open mics in the dark has brought her out of that comfort zone. β€œRemoving the visual aspect of a performance poses a huge challenge, which can only be good. Also, stage fright deters a lot of good writers. Reading in the darkness, without the weight of the audience’s eyes on them, might encourage many more people to approach the stage,” she says.”

“What is even more trying is when artistes want to collaborate on a performance in the dark. Pandyan worked with guitarist Karthik Rao on a blind poetry show, and it was β€œtricky” to carry through. β€œAny spoken word performance is a spontaneous art form. This means your words, speed, tone and the order can change with every rendition. In collaborations, you have to communicate with each other during the performance without letting the audience know. Thankfully, Karthik and I managed to read each other’s sounds during the performance and didn’t miss any beats,” she says. Bad experiences or good, this is an activity these performers are willing to experiment with. β€œWe grew as artistes because of it,” says Pandyan.”

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram.

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