What is the show about?
The vibrant chaos and contradictions of modern India form the backdrop to what is essentially a romantic thriller. It’s a story that is full of outrageous humor, spine-chilling tension and heart-breaking beauty. That is its relevance. It appeals to our humanity.
We love chai! What’s its significance to the play?
The Guru of Chai is the nickname given to the unreliable narrator of this epic tale. Kutisar is a chai wallah (tea seller)—part salesman, part shaman, part conman and a wholly charming but dubious spiritual guide. As he draws us into his story he also brews a pot of chai. Each ingredient punctuates a critical moment in the tale and by the end of the show, the steaming hot cup of spicy sweet chai he pours is filled with significance for us all.
What or who are the scene stealers of the show?
There are certain moments of magic that are woven into the narrative. These are the times where you hear an audible “how did he do that?” gasp from the audience and witness their child-like delight. But even more satisfying are the moments of imaginative magic. These include the combined imaginations of performer and musician and audience work to create a crowded railway station, a frenzied cock fight a conversation with the moon.
What concepts are addressed in The Guru of Chai?
Who has the ultimate power over what we make of our lives, the dangers of keeping your soul locked in a cage and the quest for love in a dispassionate world are just a few.
How is the tale conveyed through you?
I play Kutisar, the Guru, who is the storyteller and our guide into the world of the play. He evokes all the characters, locations and atmospheres with the aid of a few simple props and the support of a rich musical soundscape provided by his long suffering disciple, Dave.
What did it take for you and the team to prepare for something like this?
We took two years to put a show together. When you take that long, you don’t really prepare for the role; the role prepares for you. But the real key to my character is a set of hideous, fake teeth. They are a sort of miniature mask. They completely transform me and enable me to “channel the Guru.”
How will we feel after watching the show?
I hope you leave feeling that your soul has been nourished and with an inexplicable craving for a cup of tea.
Experience a state of enlightenment with The Guru of Chai on Jan 19-29, 4pm, 8pm at the DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Rd., 6733-8166. $35-40 from Sistic.