Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Spotlight On...Shyam Bhatt

Name: Shyam Bhatt

Hometown: London, England, U.K.

Education: Law (University College London), Theatre Studies (Davies Laing & Dick), Acting and Drama (Actors Centre), Improv (Groundlings LA), Acting (Playhouse West)

Favorite Credits: Treya! Also Fatima in The Domestic Crusaders (stage), Sylvia in "Making Sparks" (TV) and Meena in East is East (stage)

Why theater?: The most interesting thing in the world is other people, and theatre gives us the chance to explore the deepest nuances of what makes each of us tick. Theatre is fantastic, it's live, it's all the most interesting parts of life spliced together on stage. The rush is unbeatable.

Tell us about Treya's Last Dance: Treya's Last Dance is a darkly comedic solo show where all the parts are played by the lead actress. Awkward, brittle, yet lovable Treya enters a speed-dating event she's been gently forced to go to by loving, worried parents, who are keen for her to find a 'life-partner.’ So far, so conventional. But as the evening proceeds, cracks appear - all is not right in Treya's world. Humorously, messily and poignantly, across the table from a series of dodgy dates, Treya stumbles into a way to start facing up to the recent tragedy that's befallen her family.

What inspired you to write Treya's Last Dance?: The old story! I wrote Treya's Last Dance as there was (and is) a serious lack of strong, confident, funny female characters from minority ethnicities. I wasn't getting auditions for the parts I wanted, so I wrote the part I wanted to play . . . and played it! There was in particular (and continues to be) a dearth of pieces addressing the very distinct issues facing the children of immigrant parents, and the chasms that open up between generations as a result. My work focuses on this, and Treya's Last Dance is only the first part of a long line of work I hope to be a part of creating. I am currently part of the Kali Theatre Talkback Writers' Workshop, a workshop which mentors beginner writers who are looking at exactly these kinds of stories.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Tough question! I enjoy thought-provoking theatre that presents familiar issues in a different light, or through an angled prism. Recent pieces I've enjoyed a lot were The Nether, and The Encounter. I'm inspired a whole bunch of people but the three that spring to mind right now? Melissa McCarthy, who takes funny characters to a whole new level; Mindy Kaling, who as far as I can see is the BOSS, and David Tennant, whose performance in Black Comedy on stage years ago is what made me want to be in theatre.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Theatre: The Nether, Unreachable. Television: Bored to Death

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Tina Fey, starring in "The Misadventures of a Goof-Off".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I'd go through the ages and through countries watching all the comedies ever written. A key player would be an original version of Sheridan's The Rivals.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Marmite and peanut butter and bananas. All together.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A different person.

What’s up next?: Auditions! And whatever the universe throws my way. Hopefully a good second follow-up play.

For more on Treya's Last Dance, visit www.outlandishcatproductions.com