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2013 has been a busy year of movie making and we’re finally ready to drop the first hint of what’s about to come!!!
Check out our Behind the Scenes Trailer for our first short film, Just A Prayer, written by Farah Merani, directed by Caris Reid, and starring Farah Merani, Huse Madhavji, Janice Wu, and Karen Ivany Courtesy of Alex Humilde and Shawn Ramsay
But we’re moving forward as if it’s just beginning!
A lot of changes have happened in 2012.. We emerged and retreated and emerged again. We performed, produced, and co-produced. We traveled, we moved, and we revisited. We danced, we played, and we laughed. But most importantly, we never gave up.
So here we are, at the brink of a new year preparing and planning for a slew of new projects and ventures. Big things are coming and we’re excited…
Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!
It’s been just over three weeks since LONDONEE hit the Rich Mix stage in East London and a huge thank you to all who supported the project in so many ways. To the cast and crew, you guys were brilliant.
A lot has happened since then. Sadly, we didn’t reach our target on KKBB in time (though, we were so close it hurts!). So, we’re re-strategizing and getting back in the saddle for the future of not only this project, but a few other germs of ideas that are in development. And it’s very exciting!
One of the best things about the post-show blues are the comments and discussions the show inspires. Here are a few snippits from various audience members who saw the show and kindly shared their thoughts with us:
“It was a very impressive production, and I was fascinated by the many cultural nuances in the play which I’d never been exposed to before. Tiny shifts of vision, which are hard to put onto words but are obviously very important. I thought the musicians were wonderful, and the actors did a great job. I was delighted I could understand a bit of the Bengali! [...] Very many congratulations on your excellent production of an enlightening play.” – Alice Sielle, Independent Artist
“What a fantastic play! We thoroughly enjoyed Londonee – very well directed, acted and delivered.” –Lata Desai, Musician and Chairwoman of London Sitar Ensemble
“First off, I came along to Londonee on Friday and really enjoyed it. Such a fantastic and inspiring production with brilliant performances. Congratulations to you both! Fingers crossed that we can find another home for it and continue its run. It really deserves it.” –Emily Bray, Agent at Independent Talent Group
If these words are any indication, we can surely rest contented and be proud of a job well done!
Read on for actress Avita Jay’s reflections on the first week of rehearsals…
First Week, Done.
So with apprehension and excitement I began my journey into Londonee on May 7th 2012. It’s been a varied, exciting, hardworking and creative week. We’ve managed to pack in a lot of exercises, scriptreadings, character work, research and tai chi, which have laid the foundations for us to delve deeper into the play in the second week. We covered so much that I’ll just mention a few of the highlights for me in the first six days!
- Doing the initial script reading with Gurpreet on the first day, where we were told not to do any acting, was actually a really good way of going back to the basics of what the script was saying. It was great to see that the script spoke for itself and characters naturally emerged through the words, without the actors having to do anything!
- We created pictures to signify the title, colour, energy and emotion of each of the 18 scenes in the play. This involved a lot of lifts and getting close physically, so ended up being very beneficial for cast bonding (very glad I’d worn deoderant that day).
- We did some work with objects that we’d brought in for our characters. The highlight of this for me, was Bevan’s character Carl persuading Nadia’s character, Jabeen to give him her nail polish by bribing her with krispy kremes! We then finished off with some hotseating, where Rez’s character Manush told a very amusing story about how he had a smoke with the angel Gabriel.
- We did a ‘nonsense’ reading of the play where we said all of the lines in the opposite way to how we thought they should be said, which produced some hilarious, but at times strangely appropriate results.
- Meeting the musicians and hearing them perform bits of the songs from the play was wonderful. Tara’s initial choreography is already beautiful and I know now that the music and dance pieces are going to be what holds the whole piece together, so can’t wait to see more…
- And last but definitely not least, the daily 10 minutes of tai chi, which has been the perfect warm up to get us centred and focused for each day. It’s actually a lot harder than it looks and think we’ll all have killer balance by the end of rehearsals!
Looking forward to what lies ahead in week 2! Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi…
Day Three of Rehearsals: Wednesday 9th May
Two rehearsal bonuses today – writer Gurpreet on hand and we were once again in our performance space. As usual, began with our tai chi warm up and focus. Thought we were doing quite well until director Mukul informed us the one move we have learnt takes a professional half an hour, that’s how much stamina and control they have! We still have a way to go…! Then we performed our 18 scenic images to Mukul, designer / stage manager Ni and Gurpreet, ending with the Bengali song we learnt yesterday. A quick pee break and we were straight into an on your feet run of the play – this time using our animal characters and mannerisms for an OTT version. Needless to say switching between a grizzly bear and a vulture and being in other people’s scenes too was exhausting and we were all rather sweaty at the end but it threw up some interesting things to think about in terms of character relationships and how another person in the play may influence our actions, even if they are not physically in the scene. Taking everything to a primal level helped a lot.
We then worked on groups of scenes – angels, girls and boys – until the end of the day. It was refreshing to be able to play around with the scenes and question the lines and the subtext without the pressure of blocking, but having the freedom to move in the space. It feels like we are already adding so many layers each day and asking more and more questions about the play.
Day Two of Rehearsals: Tuesday 8th May
Very exciting beginning today as we were moved from our green room space to the actual studio we will be performing in! It’s much wider and deeper than we’d imagined, can’t wait to perform in it. After our tai chi warm up, we worked out images for all 18 of our titled scenes, then sounds to accompany them. This was brilliant for ensemble building and group bonding and for us all to have an overall picture of the shape, themes and rhythms of the play. We then did some work with our character’s objects which helped us learn more about all the parts and the relationships between the characters.
After lunch we chose animals for our characters and worked on the physicality of each character in their environment and interacting with the other character-animals. We learnt the last song of the play in Bengali and experimented with instruments and harmonies. This was both calming and uplifting and I think it will work brilliantly when we have our live musicians onstage. We ended with some quick fire hot seating (where I found out one of my characters is 220 years old!) and some leading exercises which will link in later to working out who is driving which scene. All in all a good day and nice to be on our feet!
Everyone loves the inside scoop. So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve asked a few of the cast and crew to keep a journal of sorts, discussing their experiences throughout the rehearsal process, reflections, and the like. Here’s the first of many, by actress Nadia Nadif.
Monday 7th May
First day of rehearsals can often feel like the very first day of school – that mixture of nervousness and excitement. So much so that I woke up a full hour earlier than I needed to at 6.30am.
I got into our rehearsal room at Rich Mix at 9.30am and immediately felt comforted by two things – Mukul the director putting up a poster of the play on the wall and two actors already drinking the coffee that had been provided. By 10.30am I had met the rest of the cast, Tara our music / movement consultant and Gurpreet the writer, seen the beautiful costume designs done by designer Ni and we’d all done a tai chi warm up led by Mukul (it is harder than it looks tai chi!). Production Manager Ashleigh gave us a bundle of flyers and by lunchtime I had already invited two people to see the show! The cast and Ni all ate lunch together in the Rich Mix cafe and found out various important things about each other, such as our ages and how we got involved in the production.
The day went very quickly considering we got so much done: Two full read throughs of the play (the pressure was taken off by Mukul instructing us to ‘not act at all. No emotion. Like you’re reading the news. It’s just facts’), the invaluable chance to ask Gurpreet some character questions, some script edits and our last exercise – naming each scene of the play with a title and deciding on the colour, energy and emotion of that title. I have read the play several times and instantly liked the script, laughing to myself alone in my flat on certain lines, but it really came alive in the read through and I felt genuinely moved in parts of it. The whole day felt very organic and it was great that everyone was encouraged to bring ideas to the table – whether on the production team, creative team or one of the actors.
The day ended with homework – to write down for each scene we are in what we think of each of the other characters and what they think of us. Tomorrow we will share our findings, I can’t wait!