Today on the buzz I speak to Kevin. I have always been a fan of his work and how he pays attention to details on stage – and now I’m happy I get to see it and be a part of this experience as I work with a musical that is NOT to be missed with Grease.
Kevin has a cool and calm personality and all that I hear about him are good things which I think is a great thing. Putting up a show like Grease is no easy task and I always like to see a person who is willing to take a challenge. Kevin has taken a big one with amazing talent in the cast and I hope you come to support and pass the news around
Today Kevin speaks about theatre, life and everything in-between
Full Name – Kevin Mark De Cruze
Birthday- 26th September
Passions- Cricket, Gaming, Theatre, and once upon a time I was a huge fan of Wrestling too
Favourite Color- Blue and Black
When did you get into theater?
Although I was officially inducted into theatre in the year 2000 at my alma mater St. Joseph’s College, my first public performance was for a church function in 1999 where I played the role of the prodigal son. I was initially cast as the elder son. But I guess Marisa Gnanaraj, my first Director, realized that the recklessness came out naturally in me, so I was re-cast as the prodigal son. It was quite special because, come to think of it, my journey in theatre started off in church with all the blessings I needed.
Who has been your biggest support?
Well there are quite a few people that I can think of. My mother for starters. There was a time where I left home for school at 6am and retuned only at 2am the following day after rehearsals. At times with no way of getting back home or even making a phone call. At a time when the conflict in the country was still going on, she still trusted me and let me continue with theatre. You probably might not be even reading this column if she had told me to stop.
My wife, Shakira, for understanding my passion and for putting up with my ridiculous timings. And finally, my brother, sister and the Vice President of Cold Theatre 7 and my friend Anuk De Silva for listening to me, encouraging me and for always having my back.
This year you are staging Grease, why did you pick this musical?
Grease has always been a personal favourite of mine. I used to remember my parents listening to these songs and the music always takes me back in time giving that nostalgic feeling and I am sure the Grease soundtrack will bring back memories for a lot of people too. So, one of the reasons I am staging Grease is partly to re-live that era with the audience.
Moreover, the goal of Cold Theatre 7 is to always stage performances that are entertaining and visually spectacular, with of course the traditional Cold Theatre 7 ‘twist’. With Grease, I wanted to unearth the immense talent base we have here in Colombo, and providing such new and sometimes raw gems the opportunity to shine on the grandest of stages.
When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to play Cricket and bring pride to the nation. I, in fact, went for drama practices and cricket practices parallelly, but then came a time where I had to choose between the two and I selected theatre.
What was one of your most defining moments in life?
In 2005, I probably was the youngest Director to have won the Shakespeare Drama competition at the age of 19. However, to me the most defining moment was not winning that championship, but what happened the very next year in 2006 where as the defending champs we crashed out of the competition in the first round. I am glad that happened to me at a very early stage in my career because of the lessons that experience taught me. As a Director, I learnt a lot of techniques and the formula, as some might say, to put on a show with the right balance.
What is your strongest personal quality?
I guess it’s my people management skills. I work with a diverse group of people and I believe it is very important that you respect everyone for who they are and what they need to do. People have volunteered to be a part of my productions and as a result, I am able to project my vision. Therefore, it is equally important for me to respect their personal lives and give them the space they require when they need it too.
“Trust your actors and yourself as the Director!”
What does a perfect day look like to you?
At the rate I am going honestly, a perfect day for me will be when I can wake up in the morning not thinking of what I need to do next. Jokes apart though, whether it be at my workplace or theatre, a perfect day for me would be as long as I am challenged, tested and put my brains to the test. I won’t wish for this every day though, but you feel a great sense of satisfaction when you have a day like that.
What are your thoughts on the talent we have in this country?
My vision in Cold Theatre 7 is to make English Theatre a profession at some point. The reason I am working towards this vision is because I see a tremendous amount of talent. Talent that can make the audience laugh, think and cry. However, theatre is not considered a profession in Sri Lanka. So, the talent that we have right now is very temporary. The moment life and reality happen, we will lose out on these individuals because let’s face it, we don’t get paid to do this.
I know that this change might not happen in my generation or my sons’ generation. But two generations down the line, if people are able to select theatre as a profession in Sri Lanka then someone needs to start this initiative now, someone needs to make that difference and someone needs to put their foot down. I am not saying that it’s me and I know that there are other theatre troupes who are also working towards this goal. I am just a soldier marching towards this vision and I would like to play my part for the industry to grow and retain and develop our in-house talent.
What are the challenges with this upcoming musical?
I think the biggest challenge we are facing is with finding corporate sponsors. Shows of this nature don’t come cheap, and everyone involved is doing their bit expecting nothing in return. The cast, crew and the production team are also quite experienced and they are hellbent on putting up a show which is nothing short of a West End or a Broadway musical. The only difference you will see is local talent as opposed to international artistes.
So, nailing some sponsors down has been the biggest challenge for me so far.
How can one contribute to Grease?
I think the above response is self-explanatory. Another way is to show support by purchasing a ticket and coming to watch the performance in August and supporting our local talent and the performing arts
In the Spot?
Who is that ONE person you admire in the trade locally?
There are quite a few people I admire in the trade locally. Jerome L De Silva for his humbleness and for providing the opportunity for local theatre goers to witness some of the best musicals. Jehan Aloysius, for his creative brilliance and the magic that he creates. Feroze Kamardeen, for being able to be creative in a different level and cater to the mass market. Tracy Holsinger for the constant contest to make theatre a profession.
Jerom / Feroze / Indu – who would you pick to work as your partner in a production and why?
This is a difficult one to pick and putting me on the spot indeed. I have immense respect for all three of them because I grew up watching them stage exceptional productions. Firstly, it will be an honour to join hands and work with these individuals and perhaps one day I will. If I get that opportunity, I would perhaps ask Indu to co-direct with me, while Feroze oversees the whole production, and have Jerome as my adviser and the go-to person.
Who is your ONE / all-time favourite play staged in LK?
It’s difficult to say because each play/musical has had its own personal flavour. But if I were to select one of the plays that I did, I would say it was 12 Angry Men / Women simply because of the content and depth of the storyline and the calibre and mixture of people who were in that cast ranging from my mentors, my past directors, my best friends and the young upcoming talent.
If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
This is something I say to myself whether it be on stage or in my corporate world,
“Go out there and put on a show for everyone to remember”
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
There are quite a few things I can think of where I could have done things differently. But I guess I’d rather live with that and learn the lessons that experience taught me rather than trying to change my past.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
One of my ambitions is to travel around Sri Lanka. Not just for leisure, but to do Sinhala and Tamil productions at one point and travel around and showcase them in the local communities hoping to drive a message that will make a difference.
If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
My notebook because I can be quite forgetful when I have about 7 oranges to juggle, my wallet, my phone, my bottle of gel and my cup of coffee.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
My Father was never a dramatist, but something he always said as well:
“The show must still go on”
What teacher in school made the most impact on you and why?
This is an easy one and clearly it is Mrs Vijayanthi Anthick. As a student, I was trying to find my footing and what I need to be doing in life and although she never spelt out what I need to do, she gave me that guidance whenever I went astray and the self-belief and encouragement when I needed it the most. I went onto become the Drama President and the president of the English Literary Union under her guidance and soon after I left school, I also directed St. Joseph’s College to its fifth title at the Inter-School Shakespeare Drama Competition with her being the teacher-in-charge.
“More than a teacher more like a mother!”
How do you spend your free time?
Playing and cuddling my two sons, gaming to take my mind off theatre and the corporate world, watching a movie with wifey and perhaps also chillaxing with friends.
What feels like love to you?
Wow this is deep, but perhaps love is where I can find myself genuinely smiling at something unintentionally.
How would your friends describe you?
Some have described me as the fearless leader whereas some have described me as the fighter, but If am being truly honest some have also described me as a kukula too, but surely that’s because of my hairdo.