The past two weeks have been oh, so hectic. But I can’t complain. I’m not, in fact. I love it. The rush, the thrill, the joy. The ups and downs of the day. It’s all a part of the journey in creating a piece of work, a show, a smile on a face. Ah, the play.
We all refer to it as The Play. We always have had. For every play RIV Productions has come up with and put together for the world to see, it has always been ‘The Play’. Because it is THE major thing, entity, whatever you want to call it, that dominates in our lives when the production gets rolling. When my fellow director (Isha) and I meet, still half asleep, in the mornings, ready to work, armed with The Play Book, the camera, a water bottle, and a laptop; when the actors come into the room at exactly 2 in the afternoon, energetic and ready to start practice for the day; when the sun dips below the horizon as the traffic on the streets becomes more and more noisy and the cool breeze rushes through our open window and through our hair as we discuss and note and sing and choreograph; ah, we feel the stress. We feel the pressure. But we also feel the excitement. The anticipation. The pride. Then, when we wrap after the day – often, after a very long day – we close our eyes and see the smiles of the faces of those children who have less things to smile about, those children who have no parents to call their own, but those children who were lucky enough to find a place they now can call home. We are doing this for them. And we know it will be an experience of a lifetime.
On Thursday morning, Isha and I met up at 10am and got down to work immediately. The first show of the play was tomorrow. Tomorrow. So, of course, the prevalence of excitement in our work meeting was obvious. We had a few things left to do- rechecking the props and costumes, making a banner with the name of the play – ‘You Don’t Always Need Magic’on it, and sending a couple of reminders and important emails to the wonderfully supportive parents of our child actors.
By 1:15, we had almost finished the banner – which looked absolutely brilliant, by the way – and we broke for a 15-minute lunch. We made the finishing touches on the banner and then went to the clubhouse for practice at 2pm. We had scheduled a full play practice (without instruments) on that day. A kind volunteer – Meera Aunty- also attended the practice because she had wanted to help us with the lights. The practice went on for an hour. I was extra skeptical in this practice and made sure that not a tiny detail of the script, song or dance was missed in the run-through. I noticed the the little 8 year olds – Siri, Sharvi, Meghan and Naisha- did extremely well. You know that emotion -it must be of immense pride- that from time to time swells in your chest? It’s such a motherly feeling – and it always manages to dominate all the emotions I experience in the whole day. It’s the best feeling ever. (There, I said it.) That’s what I felt when I saw the practice of Scene 2. It was flawless. They danced and sung and narrated dialogues with such gusto that I couldn’t help but marvel at it.
I love seeing the effort that we put into training the children, the hours that we tell them to say the line this way, then that way, and the practices we spend in dancing with them- dancing and dancing- until they get the steps right… all lead up to this. The visions we had in 2013, while writing the script, penning down the lyrics of the original songs, video taping the dance steps and complex choreography from the shaky camera of a phone…it all comes alive in front of us. Our script comes alive. It’s such a beautiful thing.
We then worked with Ganeev and Megha – who have become nothing short of dear siblings to me – for about an hour. Isha and I then returned home to work some more- transferring audio files and organizing the recorded instruments (the music was all original, remember?) and sending emails.
We then rested a bit, and then resumed work at 6:45pm. The biggest practice to date – the parents’ meeting- was scheduled in fifteen minutes. We had trouble transporting the ginormous keyboard, laptop and all the smaller (but heavy) props to the clubhouse in the torrential rain that had begun some time ago but we made it without causing damage. The parents – with all our little actors – poured into the practice room at around 7:15pm. It was exciting. For some time there was the hustle in and out of the room as the people, instruments, speakers, chairs and tables went in and out of the room. We started the meeting (attended by all the 25 people we called – something we very happy about) and discussed technicalities. We then rehearsed the play in front of the parents. Note that my own parents were unaware of the story-line before this! Truely, it was entirely the kids’ effort alone that went into the play.
And this fact made the parents’ great response a thousand times more satisfactory! They loved it. They told me that they could see the huge effort that each child put into their parts and they loved the message of the story- and that is what every director would love to hear, take it from me. All 11 of us were on top of the world after the rehearsal.
We all retired to bed after that. It had been a long day – and the first show in Asha Home For the Destitute was tomorrow! We couldn’t wait.