That Prop! This Scene!

June 4, 2015     / / /

Divya Chandrasekaran

I remember that day quite well. A lazy afternoon Google search for local theaters showing the Tamil movie “OK Kanmani” had led to “NAATAK” serendipitously popping into my search results. I was intrigued. Hmmm, so there is an Indian theater company in the Bay Area? Oh, wait, it’s also America’s biggest Indian theater group. I click on the link. A few clicks later, I am staring at a page called “Rabbit Hole”. Yes, this is my own ‘Alice in Wonderland’ moment, I wonder.

I see an invitation for crew signups for Rabbit Hole. The fork in the road. We all have multiple-personality trait within us, don’t we? One half of us wants to get going, but the other half keeps pulling us back and filling us with doubts and questions. It’s an ongoing struggle between me and my alter ego. But whichever wins, that’s ME! That’s the ME that the world sees. The Divya that the world was going to see that day, chose to respond to the signup page asking to be considered for a spot on the Naatak roster, along with a picture portfolio of my talented creations.

A few hours later, I was very excited to see a reply from the director of Rabbit Hole, Harish Agastya, connecting me with Savitha Samu, Naatak’s props officer. I sent her a list of projects, and a few days later, I was invited to join the production kickoff meeting for Rabbit Hole and meet the rest of the team at Naatak House.

Wow! Naatak House! What a place! A theater lovers’ dream! It was filled with props, sets, costumes, , and the most magnificent concentration of energy and talent. Yes, Alice had arrived! I was given the script for Rabbit Hole, and over the course of the next few weeks, amidst hundreds of emails, texts, phone calls and in-person meetings, the props team carried out the task of procuring the various items required in the play. For instance: we needed a monkey in the play and we were looking to meet that with “Curious George”. Finding Curious George led us on so many hunts: Amazon, Savers, Goodwill, etc. Finally, a trip to the Goodwill store with my son in tow proved lucky for me, as it was he who found us the coveted monkey!

In the meantime, there were a number of emails with posters, trailers, and progress of different teams that were sent out. After the kickoff meeting, I did not have an opportunity to meet most of the people in the other departments including the cast. We were operating in sort of a ‘silo’ within the props team. This week, I finally got to meet the cast, and watch the rehearsals.

OMG! It was such a wonderful experience! That’s the least I could say. I witnessed 3 scenes and a couple of them were intense emotional scenes. We were 3 weeks from showtime, so I knew this couldn’t be close to the final output. They weren’t using proper props, they were in a make-shift set, and they were not in the right costumes. Despite that, the actors were in their characters and portraying them wonderfully. There were a few times in those scenes when I felt choked up. You know, like you get choked when you see someone else’s pain. That’s exactly what happened when Deepu talked about seeing Dev’s presence everywhere or when she accuses Nandini (her mom) of comparing Dev and her brother. Such terrific, heart-warming moments!

We don’t have power over destiny. We can’t guarantee the next, forget minutes, even seconds. This play teaches us a new perspective. A way to deal-with situations. Everyone wants a happy ending, but does everyone get a happy ending?

I came home a little choked, a little heavy in my heart. As a mother of a 4-yr old boy, I felt I was Deepu. I looked at my precious boy. I didn’t have words. Just a hug! That’s all I wanted.

Life is such a sweet suspenseful journey, that you never know what the tide brings in. Such is my association with “That prop! This Scene!” which links to the Rabbit Hole play, which in turn links to Naatak House! This is just my beginning!

Naatak’s production of Rabbit Hole plays to audiences on June 13th/14th/19th and the 20th. I am SO looking forward to Opening Night, so should you all. To see Deepu, Avi, Ishu, Nandini, and Jason come alive and bring out OUR own Deepu, Avi, Ishu, Nandini, and Jason! I long to be in the audience, to get transfixed, to feel choked, to feel left out, to feel the pain but again only to move forward, to open up, to just love life and its treasures.

For RABBIT HOLE show info and tickets, please visit