Published: 01st May 2018
Kochi theatre artist Sanjay Menon talks about his inspiration, life in New Zealand
Sanjay is currently playing the role of Charlie, a Filipino waiter in the play 'Cruise Control'
Theatre artist Sanjay Menon was just a child when he first watched a folk dance drama being performed at his family temple. It was the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. That was all it took to draw Sanjay into the world of storytelling and theatre. Since then, he has been involved in various theatre activities at both school and college.
The 25-year-old has even managed to grab the attention of the international audience with his noteworthy performances in New Zealand, where he is currently pursuing his Master's in International Communication. Born in Mala, Thrissur, a cultural village in southern Kerala, Sanjay was exposed to theatre at a very young age. Apart from a degree in Political Science and Law, Sanjay also did a short stint as a radio jockey. But theatre always remained closest to his heart.
Baby steps: Sanjay's first theatre act was a monologue by Marcus Brutus from the play Julius Caesar
“My first theatre act was a monologue by Marcus Brutus from the play Julius Caesar. I performed it at the school assembly when I was in class VIII. During my school days, I was mostly involved in mime, representing and winning state-level competitions," says Sanjay.
Talking about his experiences in New Zealand, Sanjay says, "I have been here for over a year now. My first priority after settling down was to look for theatre activities nearby. I auditioned for plenty of theatre groups and finally got a breakthrough with an Asian theatre group. My first performance with them was a monologue that I wrote titled Cultural Shock at the Q Theatre in Auckland. It traces the experiences of an immigrant student in New Zealand. Since then, opportunities have been pouring in. My most memorable performance was in front of my professors at the University."
His latest stint is a full-length, two-hour-long play titled Cruise Control, a production by the Howick Little Theatre, a community theatre group based in Auckland. Being the only member of non-English descent among the cast, Sanjay played the character of Charlie, a Filipino waiter.
Stage call: His latest stint is a full-length, two-hour-long play titled Cruise Control
Talking about the future, Sanjay says, "My next project is a comedy thriller where I play the character of a transgender. A web series is also in the pipeline," adding, "I am also looking forward to being part of more theatre productions as well as learning new forms of theatre like Chakyar Koothu, a traditional art form of Kerala, an equivalent of the modern stand-up comedy." But why a traditional art form? "I am a story-oriented and dramatic person in nature. I always try to incorporate stories into my conversations. Therefore, I like all forms of storytelling," he states.
However, when asked why theatre is closer to his heart, he says, "Theatre is specifically exciting because you get quick responses from the audience. The stage, the lighting, the live sound, scene-by-scene costume changes and improvisations are all things that give me a rush."
When asked what he believed is the difference between the theatre industry in India and the one in New Zealand, he says, "The main difference is the exposure that theatre gets here. Theatre is as popular in NZ as movies are in India. Also, the opportunities are higher in NZ." Sanjay's one dream, however, is to assemble a professional theatre group in Kochi, Kerala.