Acclaimed stand-up comedian-turned-big-screen actor and Bollywood Star, Vir Das, brings the international smash-hit comedy, Battle of DaSexes, to South Africa for a two weekend run: in Johannesburg’s Montecasino on 27, 28 & 29 May and then Durban’s Playhouse on 4 & 5 June.
Vir Das, who is equally comfortable working on TV, film, theatre and live-comedy, says “Battle of DaSexes is an insightful, fun and laugh-out-loud comedy-drama all about the eternal battle between Men and Women. It is a battle not with arms and gun powder but with bellies and eyeliner!”
Battle of DaSexes is written, directed and performed by Vir Das and produced by global theatre production house: AGP World.
I chatted to producer Ashvin Gidwani.
Welcome to South Africa! Is this your first time here? How are you enjoying it?
Thank you. This is my 7th trip to South Africa. I enjoy working here and love the cultural diversity. There is so much to learn from the discipline of theatre here which has been an experience and putting that in synch with our way of working and it helps develop a stronger and more vibrant existence.
The show has already run in Johannesburg. How was the reception and feedback?
It’s a tough market but we are used to the crests and troughs of theatre. We believe in surfing it with our passion and skill. We learn from marketing and business sensitivities but the audiences are really super. Our first show was one of the best responses ever in audience reaction which leads us to believe that the market is evolved and ready for our work. Our learnings are based on a long term investment where we can eventually create work from here from SA to tour the rest of Africa.
What has been the highlights of your experience in South Africa so far?
The talent in SA is incredible and structured for an inspiration to all. There is a professional approach to theatre and I see great potential in collaborating with existing producers where we can add value in original content, investment and open the touring to our regions of Middle East, India, Far East.
Is there much difference in South African and Indian audiences in their reaction to the show?
They all laughed by the minute. This show has been skewed to international audiences. All that love comedy enjoyed the roller coaster ride. We have received tremendous responses from the Johannesburg audiences and we’re now looking forward to see how the show goes down in Durban this weekend.
You mention in your press release “The vision is to blur geographical boundaries and unite cultures across the globe.” I think that South Africa’s diverse audiences are perfect for this kind of vision. Is this one of the reasons you decided to bring the show here?
This is the third tour after History of India & Blame it on Bollywood being our first two visits. We are two nations who fought for our freedom through Mahatma Gandhi & Nelson Mandela with similar ideologies and a rich heritage of diversity and culture. In these scenarios creativity is borne and we struggled to put our talent out there. My journey is one of creating legacies and with the right people by my side and the passion I’m sure the lines will cross and merge as one where I can tour SA talent into my part of the world.
My site (www.popspeaking.com) is inspired by the comedic actor John Ritter who mentioned in a late 1970s interview that he would like to be remembered as someone who tweaks the golden thread of humanity. In other words make people across races, nations, and generations feel and think by their art. It sounds to me like this is something you think about as well. Would this be true? Is comedy a very effective way to do this as opposed to for example a more serious form of acting?
Comedy is the most engaging of the genres in theatrical stand up. It draws more audiences by default and the messaging can carry across more audience through footfall and deliver the objectives.
I think the differences between men and women is something all cultures can relate to. Is the whole ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ something close to your heart?
As time goes by I understand women less. They are evolving faster than us men and its better to let them lead the way as there is a more stable scenario in their working style along with discipline. The day they get emotional is a dangerous moment for all of us men.
What moved you to produce and get involved with this show?
It was the concept, investment, touring possibilities, passion for what I do and the sheer skill and talent of Vir Das.
What would you like audiences to take from the show?
Grow better relationships, couples can understand each other better, have some fun, enjoy a great night out enjoying good comedy.
Is there anything else you’d like to get across in the interview?
I have a vision for one Africa culturally bound together and progress together. My work can contribute to that which will be one of the most potent touring formulas in our time.