Welcome back readers! Here is the second instalment of my take on Beneath the Surface – where I shall be telling you about what’s been going on, the headway we’ve made with the project, our discoveries, and the general antics of the group as we march on towards our first show THIS SATURDAY at Southbank Centre in London.
Yesterday was the first time the whole team came together. I arrived at Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton with time to spare (despite my threats last time to complain about traffic, I have to concede that it was a fine drive in the morning). The fact it was raining did nothing to dampen my excitement about meeting the actors, the directors and the rest of the team – some of whom I had met already and some of whom were new to me. From just eight hours of working with them, I can already tell that this is a great group! There is great chemistry between our two actors, Dharmesh Patel and Rochi Rampal, and under the direction of Steve and Kate, our directors, we have made real progress already.
We began at the beginning with a read-through. I always feel this gives everyone a chance to hear the lines of the script out loud and to comprehend what they’re saying in a way that’s somehow so much clearer than just reading it in one’s head. Suddenly the characters in the piece are injected with a spark of life, a spark that it’s now up to the team to nurture and help grow until a set of fully formed characters stand before them. It also gives the actors, directors, and fascinated bloggers (such as the one writing now) a chance to raise questions and to discuss ideas in the piece and what they mean in a wider theatrical context. I must admit to you now that if there’s one thing this group seems very good at, it’s discussions! I do believe that reading through just under thirty pages of script took near enough two and a half hours. However, the insights that we were able to draw from these discussions were pure theatrical gold (pardon the cliché). I do not want to spoil the show for you (for of course, I expect you all to be rushing to see it at a venue near you soon) but I will tell you that a big focus of our discussions rests on how two different sets of characters identity as both LGB and South Asian – are the two concepts mutually exclusive or is there a way of navigating the line between being LGB and South Asian? For two of the younger characters it seems they are more confined by their identities, while for two of the more mature characters it seems they have found a way of establishing themselves in such a way that means being LGB isn’t outside their culture nor are they pandering to a view that they are marginal within the queer community. It was an amazing discussion and it got me thinking about how an LGB identity can sometimes absorb you to the point there is nothing else about you and where does this leave you in terms of forming an identity that is true to all parts of yourself if you come from a strong and proud cultural background – maybe you have your own views?
So after a long and in-depth read-through, we were off – beginning the process of rehearsing each section, in particular the parts of the script that make use of multi-media which are to be created tomorrow (full coverage will follow in later blogs). The energy of both performers and production team – even at the end of the day – was impressive and reflected in the fact we were able to finish these sections with time at the end of the day for a de-brief and to plan out the rest of the week’s rehearsals. I did my bit by chipping in with my own ideas and experiences when appropriate and kept everyone’s spirits up by plying them with tea and coffee whenever there appeared to be a dip (and people say that working in theatre is glamorous!). I do not want to foreshadow future blogs too much but will implore you to stay tuned because (and here comes another cliché) … the best is yet to come! Until the next time – stay fabulous!
Robert Beck is a guest blogger for Bobby Tiwana’s project ‘Beneath the Surface’. As well as blogging he is an emerging theatre maker and director with a special interest in LGBT projects and queer narratives. Follow him on Twitter @Rhubarb1992 or read his own (brand new) blog.