MAGICAL MOROCCO
May 26, 2020
THE “ADDAMS FAMILY” & “GET SHORTY” DIRECTOR’S RASPBERRY PATCH ESTATE!
May 26, 2020

INSIDE STORY

Feroze Kamardeen

Stand and deliver!

We see an edgy young man making a blithering nuisance of himself in public. He buttonholes an individual minding his own business, and fires a volley of weird and wacky ideas at the unfortunate soul. Bit by bit, he erodes the increasingly discomfited man’s composed facade – until in the play’s denouement, he engineers a very tragic end…

But you need to have seen Edward Albee’s absurdist drama The Zoo Story to understand how brilliant Feroze Kamardeen was in that role of the tortured Jerry.

Today, that actor turned director is no different from the taunting character he played so memorably way back in 1989. And he’s still not above hijacking innocent audiences and bombarding them with the most outlandish ideas.

Little by little, the talented thespian who once wore two hats has encroached on our mind­scape, and challenged the feelings and thinking of society on a host of sociopolitical issues.

These days however, the neurotic young actor has matured (ahem…) into a more restrained version of his former self. Although if you’ve sat through his traditionally very long productions, you would have noted that the mania hasn’t quite abated. Nor has his intense genie abandoned the man.

And in standup comedy, he has discovered perhaps the perfect vehicle to showcase Colombo’s frivolity and Sri Lanka’s foibles – together with a genius cast and crew ensemble that he marshals like a petty dictator strutting his hour upon a stage.

Full of nervous energy in speech and mannerisms, the unrepen­­­­tant auteur has an agenda of late… to challenge and change a rather lackadaisical island’s citizenry from being the audience into active agents in their own transformation.     

Wijith DeChickera was at his wits’ end trying to catch the busy buzzing businesslike showman backstage for a quiet – well, as staid as can be with a manic impresario whose mind is always ticking over with fresh ideas for a new script – chat… on the man behind the mask.

Feroze Kamardeen

Stand and deliver!

We see an edgy young man making a blithering nuisance of himself in public. He buttonholes an individual minding his own business, and fires a volley of weird and wacky ideas at the unfortunate soul. Bit by bit, he erodes the increasingly discomfited man’s composed facade – until in the play’s denouement, he engineers a very tragic end…

But you need to have seen Edward Albee’s absurdist drama The Zoo Story to understand how brilliant Feroze Kamardeen was in that role of the tortured Jerry.

Today, that actor turned director is no different from the taunting character he played so memorably way back in 1989. And he’s still not above hijacking innocent audiences and bombarding them with the most outlandish ideas.

Little by little, the talented thespian who once wore two hats has encroached on our mind­scape, and challenged the feelings and thinking of society on a host of sociopolitical issues.

These days however, the neurotic young actor has matured (ahem…) into a more restrained version of his former self. Although if you’ve sat through his traditionally very long productions, you would have noted that the mania hasn’t quite abated. Nor has his intense genie abandoned the man.

And in standup comedy, he has discovered perhaps the perfect vehicle to showcase Colombo’s frivolity and Sri Lanka’s foibles – together with a genius cast and crew ensemble that he marshals like a petty dictator strutting his hour upon a stage.

Full of nervous energy in speech and mannerisms, the unrepen­­­­tant auteur has an agenda of late… to challenge and change a rather lackadaisical island’s citizenry from being the audience into active agents in their own transformation.     

Wijith DeChickera was at his wits’ end trying to catch the busy buzzing businesslike showman backstage for a quiet – well, as staid as can be with a manic impresario whose mind is always ticking over with fresh ideas for a new script – chat… on the man behind the mask.

Even now, I spend an extraordinary amount of time during the day talking to myself

parallax background

LIFE

Q: Tell us a bit about your background, Feroze…
A: I was born in Colombo to a businessman father and housewife mother. I’ve two older brothers, one older sister and one younger sister – being myself the fourth of five children.

Q: What sort of child and teenager were you?
A: A bit of a loner. I dabbled in a bit of everything including sports. And the only thing I am worse at than cooking is anything sports related! In my teenage years, I took up debating quite seriously. While I hated studying, the only thing I hated more than studying was sitting for exams!

Q: Typical Sri Lankans would ask you about your alma mater?
A: My schooling was at D. S. Senanayake College.

Q: And of course, the next question would be about hobbies or pastimes!
A: Reading, watching TV and so on.

Q: What’s your present vocation or profession?
A: I work (in a very loose sense of the word!) at a South Asian technologies company.

Q: Besides drama and theatre, what other passions do you have?
A: Reading, watching TV programmes – especially cooking shows, which is strange because by all accounts, I am an awful cook; but I can spend hours mindlessly watching cookery programmes!
 
Q: A few of the most memorable moments in your life so far…
A: The moment my daughter was born – it was surreal… almost like I felt the focus of my life shifting from me to her. Also the moment when I visited the holy city of Mecca and saw the Ka’bah for the first time…

Q: What’s your happy place these days?
A: Chilling with my wife and binge watching TV with Janaan cuddled beside me.

While I hated studying, the only thing I hated more than studying was sitting for exams

Quick-fire Round

Morning or evening person
Morning

Dress up or down
Down

Drive or be driven
Be driven

Work hard or play hard
A bit of both

Fight or flight
Argue

Truth or dare
Truth

Act or direct
Direct

Theatre or TV
Theatre

Stage or screen
Stage

Online or offline
Offline

Facebook or Instagram
I’m not on Instagram (my account is managed by StageLight&Magic’s social media team)

Twitter or a tÉte-ê-tÉte
TÉte-ê-tÉte (I don’t have a Twitter account but even if I did, I still prefer a nice conversation over a cup of coffee)

Liberal or conservative
Leaning to liberal

Political or apolitical
Political

 

LIFE

Q: Tell us a bit about your background, Feroze…
A: I was born in Colombo to a businessman father and housewife mother. I’ve two older brothers, one older sister and one younger sister – being myself the fourth of five children.

Q: What sort of child and teenager were you?
A: A bit of a loner. I dabbled in a bit of everything including sports. And the only thing I am worse at than cooking is anything sports related! In my teenage years, I took up debating quite seriously. While I hated studying, the only thing I hated more than studying was sitting for exams!

Q: Typical Sri Lankans would ask you about your alma mater?
A: My schooling was at D. S. Senanayake College.

Q: And of course, the next question would be about hobbies or pastimes!
A: Reading, watching TV and so on.

Q: What’s your present vocation or profession?
A: I work (in a very loose sense of the word!) at a South Asian technologies company.

Q: Besides drama and theatre, what other passions do you have?
A: Reading, watching TV programmes – especially cooking shows, which is strange because by all accounts, I am an awful cook; but I can spend hours mindlessly watching cookery programmes!
 
Q: A few of the most memorable moments in your life so far…
A: The moment my daughter was born – it was surreal… almost like I felt the focus of my life shifting from me to her. Also the moment when I visited the holy city of Mecca and saw the Ka’bah for the first time…

Q: What’s your happy place these days?
A: Chilling with my wife and binge watching TV with Janaan cuddled beside me.

While I hated studying, the only thing I hated more than studying was sitting for exams

Quick-fire Round

Morning or evening person
Morning

Dress up or down
Down

Drive or be driven
Be driven

Work hard or play hard
A bit of both

Fight or flight
Argue

Truth or dare
Truth

Act or direct
Direct

Theatre or TV
Theatre

Stage or screen
Stage

Online or offline
Offline

Facebook or Instagram
I’m not on Instagram (my account is managed by StageLight&Magic’s social media team)

Twitter or a tÉte-ê-tÉte
TÉte-ê-tÉte (I don’t have a Twitter account but even if I did, I still prefer a nice conversation over a cup of coffee)

Liberal or conservative
Leaning to liberal

Political or apolitical
Political

parallax background
 

About Feroze


DATE OF BIRTH
10 July 1972

EDUCATION
“None whatsoever! But I do have a CIM diploma and three A Levels…”

FAMILY MEMBERS
Father (Ahmed Ismail Kamardeen)
Mum (Saleema Kamardeen)
Brothers (Sajjad and Munir)
Sisters (Faria Salie and Prof. Naazima Kamardeen)
Wife (Ayidha Abdul Salam)
Daughter (Janaan Khadija Kamardeen)

HOBBIES
Theatre
Writing

ALWAYS WANTED TO BE
Content and comfortable

LOVES
Chilling with friends

HATES
Drivers of private buses and Land Rover Defenders who think that the lines on the road are for decorative purposes

PET PEEVES
Friends who think holidays are for ‘doing things’ like climbing rocks or walking, or any other tiresome physical activity

MUST-HAVE THINGS
Wife
Child
Handkerchief

ROLE MODELS
“None as such… I simply admire people for what they do.”

MOTTO IN LIFE
‘I won’t hold back anything and I’ll walk away a fool or a king.’

CAREER

Q: If you hadn’t become the theatre personality that you are today, what do you think you would have become?
A: Probably a sports (given my previous dabbling in the field) or political commentator (despite or because of no experience in that sphere), or more likely a lawyer (if I had any aptitude for any kind of scholarly activity).

Q: Being a theatre director, would you call yourself a perfectionist? What drives you?
A: I have always believed that if something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right – especially whenever I put on a play, it has to be the best I can do and I’ll do everything I can to make sure that the audience sees my best work.

Q: Do you think of yourself more as a director or an actor?
A: Don’t really see myself as an actor anymore – definitely more as a director. I see myself more as a playwright than in the other two hats.

Q: Why don’t you act more these days? (I still remember your memorable roles in an Albee play and at the Shakespeare Drama Competition in the 1990s…)
A: It was The Zoo Story (1989) with me and Ifaz Bin Jameel. My role as Mercutio was in 1990. When I see the acting talent that I have at my disposal now, it’s scary to think of ever taking up acting again. So unfortunately (or not), I have given up acting in favour of directing; and if circumstances permit, I would give up directing in favour of writing.

Q: What is your vision for English language theatre in Sri Lanka?
A: I would like it to appeal to a wider audience and hopefully be able to entice venues outside Colombo to perform in.

Q: How and why did you venture into stand-up?
A: I have always been a fan of stand-up comedy. My favourite is Chris Rock with now Dave Chappelle also right at the top. Between the two incarnations of Pusswedilla, I wanted to do a sketch show simply to experiment with writing out of the Pusswedilla style.
I really wanted to see how our audiences would respond to more local and very direct content. That resulted in Freddy 1 having a stand-up segment. It was its popularity that made me spin off a stand-up comedy show.

Q: Any significant feedback or criticism you’d want to share?
A: It came from my daughter – “Dada,” she once told me plaintively, “why can’t you make your plays funny? At least then, people can laugh.”

Q: How do you see your chosen vocation influencing Colombo society in particular and Sri Lankan culture at large?
A: Well, latecomers to my plays have dropped drastically! There has been discussion – at least in some circles – about content. This is true of the Freddy franchise especially.
I have always believed in the power of stage performances to move audiences. My early directorial efforts were of plays by writers such as Ariel Dorfmann, Dario Fo and George Orwell.
In my younger days, I saw a performance of Nihal Silva’s Sergeant Nallathamby and noted how much a play can connect with an audience.

Even now, I spend an extraordinary amount of time
during the day talking to myself

parallax background
 

About Feroze


DATE OF BIRTH
10 July 1972

EDUCATION
“None whatsoever! But I do have a CIM diploma and three A Levels…”

FAMILY MEMBERS
Father (Ahmed Ismail Kamardeen)
Mum (Saleema Kamardeen)
Brothers (Sajjad and Munir)
Sisters (Faria Salie and Prof. Naazima Kamardeen)
Wife (Ayidha Abdul Salam)
Daughter (Janaan Khadija Kamardeen)

HOBBIES
Theatre
Writing

ALWAYS WANTED TO BE
Content and comfortable

LOVES
Chilling with friends

HATES
Drivers of private buses and Land Rover Defenders who think that the lines on the road are for decorative purposes

PET PEEVES
Friends who think holidays are for ‘doing things’ like climbing rocks or walking, or any other tiresome physical activity

MUST-HAVE THINGS
Wife
Child
Handkerchief

ROLE MODELS
“None as such… I simply admire people for what they do.”

MOTTO IN LIFE
‘I won’t hold back anything and I’ll walk away a fool or a king.’

CAREER

Q: If you hadn’t become the theatre personality that you are today, what do you think you would have become?
A: Probably a sports (given my previous dabbling in the field) or political commentator (despite or because of no experience in that sphere), or more likely a lawyer (if I had any aptitude for any kind of scholarly activity).

Q: Being a theatre director, would you call yourself a perfectionist? What drives you?
A: I have always believed that if something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right – especially whenever I put on a play, it has to be the best I can do and I’ll do everything I can to make sure that the audience sees my best work.

Q: Do you think of yourself more as a director or an actor?
A: Don’t really see myself as an actor anymore – definitely more as a director. I see myself more as a playwright than in the other two hats.

Q: Why don’t you act more these days? (I still remember your memorable roles in an Albee play and at the Shakespeare Drama Competition in the 1990s…)
A: It was The Zoo Story (1989) with me and Ifaz Bin Jameel. My role as Mercutio was in 1990. When I see the acting talent that I have at my disposal now, it’s scary to think of ever taking up acting again. So unfortunately (or not), I have given up acting in favour of directing; and if circumstances permit, I would give up directing in favour of writing.

Q: What is your vision for English language theatre in Sri Lanka?
A: I would like it to appeal to a wider audience and hopefully be able to entice venues outside Colombo to perform in.

Q: How and why did you venture into stand-up?
A: I have always been a fan of stand-up comedy. My favourite is Chris Rock with now Dave Chappelle also right at the top. Between the two incarnations of Pusswedilla, I wanted to do a sketch show simply to experiment with writing out of the Pusswedilla style.
I really wanted to see how our audiences would respond to more local and very direct content. That resulted in Freddy 1 having a stand-up segment. It was its popularity that made me spin off a stand-up comedy show.

Q: Any significant feedback or criticism you’d want to share?
A: It came from my daughter – “Dada,” she once told me plaintively, “why can’t you make your plays funny? At least then, people can laugh.”

Q: How do you see your chosen vocation influencing Colombo society in particular and Sri Lankan culture at large?
A: Well, latecomers to my plays have dropped drastically! There has been discussion – at least in some circles – about content. This is true of the Freddy franchise especially.
I have always believed in the power of stage performances to move audiences. My early directorial efforts were of plays by writers such as Ariel Dorfmann, Dario Fo and George Orwell.
In my younger days, I saw a performance of Nihal Silva’s Sergeant Nallathamby and noted how much a play can connect with an audience.

Stage is about passion: never sacrifice it on the altar of profit

LIFESTYLE

Q: What’s ‘a day in the life of Feroze’ like?
A: Depends on which day. I am up by 5.30 a.m. every day; and on weekdays, I drive my daughter to school, take a short walk and then I’m off to office. When a play is on, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, I’m at rehearsals from 7.30 to 10.30.
On weekends, I wake up around the same time and potter around the house for a bit. And then (when I’m in the process of writing a play), I go to a coffee shop and write from about 8 o’clock until 11.30 a.m.
On days I have plays on, I spend some time with Ayidha and Janaan usually, and then I’m off for rehearsals.
Oh did I mention that I go to office regularly…?

Q: How would your family and friends describe you?
A: I would love for them to describe me as caring, loving and generous; but how they would actually describe me is totally beyond me!

Q: You’re a loving husband and a doting dad, I think… So tell us about those loves!
A: Ayidha is very understanding and probably gets me better than most people. She knows when I need space and is my sounding board for everything.
Janaan, my five-year-old daughter, has by a cruel twist of fate inherited my personality in a more concentrated (but much cuter) package. She probably knows how to get me to do virtually anything.

Q: Anything of interest you’d like our readers to know?
A: As a kid, I loved to cycle alone and talk to myself when I did so. Even now, I spend an extraordinary amount of time during the day talking to myself.
I also have a handkerchief, which is a stress reliever that many of my so-called ‘close friends’ make fun of. That handkerchief has probably saved more lives (especially during productions) than some UN peacekeeping missions!

Q: And a little-known fact about you…
A: I am a huge fan of Mad magazine!

I would like to be able to listen to someone’s problem without promptly coming up with a solution for it!

Feroze’s Favourites

LINES FROM A PLAY
Actually, it’s a few lines that I have written… “You can take a horse to water but you can’t teach it to suck eggs.”
Pusswedilla
“Horatio, tell me: is it to be or not to be? That’s the question you must answer very truthfully.”
Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar
“And it seems to me like you lived your lives like a girl called Marilyn
Always blinded by the spotlight and deluded by the fame;
But Marilyn, she is still adored: a legend never fades away…
Will you be remembered like Norma Jean? Or wither like the funeral bouquet?”
Arsikland

SONGS IN A MUSICAL
Almost all the songs in Les MisÄrables
Biscuit Kudu from Pusswedilla

CUISINE
Sri Lankan Thai food (if it is halal)

CHILL-OUT SPOTS (SRI LANKA)
Coco Veranda down Ward Place (that’s where I do most of my writing)
Bungalows in the hill country

CHILL-OUT SPOTS (OVERSEAS)
“I don’t travel that much to have favourite chill-out spots around the world! But I did write Pusswedilla Part 3 (a part of it anyway) at a very cool coffee shop in London’s Covent Garden.”

FUTURE

Q: What professional advice would you give upcoming thespians in Sri Lanka?
A: Stage is about passion; never sacrifice it on the altar of profit.

Q: Share with us any personal aspirations…
A: To spend more time with my family – especially my daughter.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
A: I would like to be able to listen to someone’s problem without promptly coming up with a solution for it!

Q: So what’s next for Feroze – and the Freddy as well as Pusswedilla franchises?
A: Taking a break from the stage and writing for a couple of months. Then it will be back to the drawing board for (God willing) Freddy 5 and possibly a different show. The Pusswedilla franchise will (God willing) be back with a new musical in 2021…

The Best

BEST STAGE ACTORS
I don’t have a list of best actors because not all of them are brilliant in every role. But I do have my favourite performances on the local stage…
Jerome de Silva as Julius Caesar in my play by that name in 1997
Dylan Perera as Mark Antony in the same play
John Benedict as the Lieutenant in Ariel Dorfmann’s Widows – which I directed in 1998
Ifaz Bin Jameel in his final performance in Freddy 4
Mohamed Adamaly in Run for Your Wife
Jehan Aloysius as Jean Valjean in Jerome’s fabulous production of Les MisÄrables in 1996

BEST DIRECTORS
Jerome de Silva – “For his passion and commitment, and for being able to envision the impossible at the Wendt.”
Sashane Perera – “For his ability to get things just right.”

BEST STAGE PLAYS
I’m basing my responses on plays that have greatly influenced me…
Nihal Silva’s Sergeant Nallathamby
Jerome’s Les Mis in 1996
Sashane’s production of Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar ╨ “This is my favourite but I am totally biased!”

Feroze’s Favourites

LINES FROM A PLAY
Actually, it’s a few lines that I have written… “You can take a horse to water but you can’t teach it to suck eggs.”
Pusswedilla
“Horatio, tell me: is it to be or not to be? That’s the question you must answer very truthfully.”
Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar
“And it seems to me like you lived your lives like a girl called Marilyn
Always blinded by the spotlight and deluded by the fame;
But Marilyn, she is still adored: a legend never fades away…
Will you be remembered like Norma Jean? Or wither like the funeral bouquet?”
Arsikland

SONGS IN A MUSICAL
Almost all the songs in Les MisÄrables
Biscuit Kudu from Pusswedilla

CUISINE
Sri Lankan
Thai food (if it is halal)

CHILL-OUT SPOTS (SRI LANKA)
Coco Veranda down Ward Place (that’s where I do most of my writing)
Bungalows in the hill country

CHILL-OUT SPOTS (OVERSEAS)
“I don’t travel that much to have favourite chill-out spots around the world! But I did write Pusswedilla Part 3 (a part of it anyway) at a very cool coffee shop in London’s Covent Garden.”

 

Spread the love
//graizoah.com/afu.php?zoneid=3574464