Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How to make a new play, Part 1

Here at The Red Hut, we will follow the creation process of the world premiere of Bombay Black by Anosh Irani. This rehearsal blog is written with the non-professional in mind. So for you old theatre hands, a little patience may be required. And for those of you new to theatre, please feel free to ask any questions by clicking on the Comment link at the end of this post.

Number of days left until opening: 40

The first day of rehearsal often feels like the first day of school. The night before, sometimes you find yourself thinking, What do I wear tomorrow morning? What kind of impression do I want to make? When you walk into the rehearsal hall (Did you get there half an hour early or with sixty seconds to spare?), you scope out the room to see who you know and where you want to sit. Old acquaintances are renewed and new friendships struck. It's both exciting and nervewracking.

The first day of Bombay Black was more like a homecoming. More like the first day of high school where you know everyone from grades seven and eight. Our amazing cast—Deena Aziz, Anita Majumdar, and Sanjay Talwar—had already met in a previous workshop of the play. Back in September, our partner company, Nightswimming Theatre, held a four-day workshop for Bombay Black. It was an opportunity for the playwright, Anosh Irani, to hear the script read aloud. Until actors come into the mix, playwrights only hear their scripts in their head. (Although some writers like to act all the parts aloud by themselves. Depending on the playwright, this can either be delightful or painful.) Back in September, two things were obvious: that this was a wonderful script and that we were lucky to have the entire workshop cast returning for the production.

Joining our stellar cast this morning were other familiar faces: the design team of Camie Koo (sets and costumes), Rebecca Picherack (lighting), Suba Sankaran (sound and original music), and Nova Bhattacharya (choreography). Camie and Rebecca has collaborated on Dreary & Izzy, Tera Beagan's fantastic new play with Native Earth. Suba, a recent Juno-winner, had joined us in the September workshop. Nova was the new kid at school; before this morning, we had only corresponded by e-mail. I've had the pleasure, though, of watching her wonderful choreography. Leading the team are our amazing stage manager, Isaac Thomas, and director extraordinaire Brian Quirt.

So what happens on a first day of rehearsal? After some brief introductions, we jumped right in with a readthrough of the script. September's workshop led to some fine-tuning from Anosh. His small re-writes made a strong story even tighter. After the readthrough, Camie and Rebecca did a design show-and-tell. You could tell from the actors' reactions that they were excited about the world we're all about to inhabit. That was pretty much the first morning.

Kendra and I headed back to the office at lunch break confident that the show was in excellent hands. I volunteered to look up two things for Brian: what a champa flower looks like and the value of a rupee. I'll be back in the rehearsal occasionally and, of course, I'll fill you in on the show's progress from both the rehearsal hall and the production office.

The good news of the day? Anita just won an acting award in Singapore for her perfomance in Murder Unveiled which will air on CBC next spring. Congratulations, Anita! And with that, we end with this article.

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