What I love the most about Acting is the moment just before you enter the stage for your performance and you are waiting at the wings – the excitement, the beating heart. All the preparation culminating at the next moment! I also love the beautiful resonance which occurs between you and your fellow actors during a performance, where your energies bounce off each other and the scene flows so smoothly and effortlessly. It does not always happen for me, but when it does, it is magical.
My name is Shreyas Raghavendra. I come from Bangalore, a city in southern India, famed for its dense tech talent and industry. Professionally, I am a data engineer. I would say my job chose me – I was interested in programming since middle school (which was not so common then). Being in Bangalore (an IT hub) helped to give me more exposure. I pursued formal education in Computer Science, which has taken me to all the places I’ve been to and gave me my career.
I moved to Germany around 5 years ago to pursue an MSc degree in Computer Science. I studied at the University of Stuttgart. Thereafter, I moved to my current home, the beautiful Munich, for work.
Outside of my job, I love acting. I first became interested in acting over a year ago. However, I was interested in performing on stage even as a child – but I did not get too many opportunities. Since my move to Germany, I have tried to explore that side of me, which I briefly got to experience when I was part of an Indian dance event at the University.
Fast forward to 2019: I was looking for opportunities in Munich to explore a performance art form. Dance was my first inkling. But I felt inclined to try acting and experience it. I never understood what goes into bringing about great performances, and I wanted to try it. I’m only two plays old, and safe to say, the acting bug isn’t letting go of me anytime soon.
At the time, I was looking out for English-speaking amateur theatre groups in Munich. A quick Google search led me to Entity Theatre, and the rest is history. Almost immediately after I found them, there were auditions for Romeo and Juliet. Since I had never done any acting whatsoever, I was incredibly nervous during the auditions. But the director made it so effortless and fun that I forgot all about my newbie status and started to have fun in the moment. I bagged a small but hilarious role in this production, and that’s how it began.
I am a baby actor, so both of my performances have been unique in their own way. The first was an open-air Shakespeare performance, where I had the opportunity to interact with the audience during the performance (which was nerve-wracking). But it got laughs and that was massively rewarding, especially the reactions from children.
My second role was that of Shamraev in Chekhov’s The Seagull. This was my first time in an indoor theatre with stage lights, sound cues, and all the technicalities – this gave me an idea of the huge array of behind-the-scenes tasks that go on. The rehearsal process was immensely rewarding, all thanks to my brilliant director and co-actors. This was my first introduction to formal acting methods and techniques, and I am extremely grateful to experience this.
Some of the most useful things I’ve learned from acting with Entity Theatre are the importance of punctuality, and taking preparation and homework seriously. A lot goes into bringing about a theatre production, and it is essential that everyone takes the time being spent by the whole team seriously, and gives their best.
As regards the art of acting itself, it’s all about being mindful, being fully in the present, committing to what you want to convey, and trusting yourself (quoting my director here!). The slightest distraction in your mind, and it shows in your performance.
The most challenging thing about acting in front of a live audience is that your performance has to be focused – you can’t let the inner critical voice distract you during the performance. Our directors guide us through warm-up routines pre-performance to aid us in this, but still, it’s super hard. I try deep breathing to calm my nerves and I retreat to the world of the character in my mind, which helps.
There is a great acting community where I live – I credit Munich with giving rise to my passion for the arts! But, unfortunately, it’s difficult for a non-fluent German speaker (even less so for amateur actors). Given the current situation, the traction for acting has reduced further. I am hoping to improve my German improvisation abilities to be able to access a wider opportunity base.
However, with the performances I have done in Munich, I was drawn to the time we spent as actors inhabiting this other character. We researched the character, gave the character a personality, and became one with them. Safe to say, I miss the characters I’ve played after the production concludes.
My future goal with acting is to eventually get myself properly trained. Whatever I have learned so far is courtesy of my directors and co-actors. But I can feel the gap in my techniques and those of my trained/experienced co-actors. So, I have a keen realization of the advantages of training. I also want to try being in front of the camera and experience that!
I do see similarities between acting and my current job – I find creativity to be the common thread in both tech and acting. Coming up with intuitive solutions and creating well-crafted software are creative endeavours.
A common theme I had to deal with both while acting and at work was the voice of the inner critic. I observed that when I worked on silencing this inner critical voice, I was able to be in the scene more and feel it better. Subsequently, I was able to come up with better solutions at work faster. It also gave me the confidence to take on projects which I initially found intimidating. This realization has helped me immensely in my job. Coincidentally, this theme of the inner critic was something I had discussed with both my lead at work and one of my directors. As one of my colleagues put it, “Don’t shy away from being uncomfortable; it is how you learn the most”. And in a nutshell, this is what acting helps me with.
My advice to aspiring actors is that it can be intimidating to start off with it when you have no experience. The only way is to try it and see how you feel. If you only want to get an initial feel for the art form, you could also consider taking part in one of the behind-the-scenes and technical tasks, such as stage management, light and sound operations, marketing, business, etc., and then take baby steps towards performing on the stage.
There is always more than tech. I think it is important to remember that tech is also a creative outlet, depending on how you look at it. And I think this is what needs to be celebrated.
Pictures courtesy of Entity Theatre, Munich. Photographs by Katrin Fegert, Dora Lutz and Tom Hafner.
To get involved with Entity Theatre in Munich, be sure to check their website: https://entitytheatre.com/.