Friday, 24 March 2017

Thespo18 is here. Show Time at Prithvi Theatre

Having arrived in India with 530 rupees and a puppet, just a few weeks later I am a rich woman. Rich in ideas, friendships, kindness, laughter, not to mentioned the delicious food and teamed with incredible indian women and it is all these things that have been a part of creating 'Mujer'. Ladies and Gentlemen...we have a show and we are ready for an audience.

Squeezing the set and full company (we haven't had the full company for 2 days, as these talented women are in multiple shows across the city) into Quasar's (founding member of QTP/Thespo Theatre) house, it was a perfect and intimate final rehearsal. To my delight I even managed to get a full mug of tea without sugar, total bliss and my dentist will be pleased! This was also the perfect moment to share stories as a company and a really precise moment for me to notice the journey of each of the young women in the room over the period of just two weeks. A real pleasure, a moment that will stay with me and probably me favourite moment captured on camera.

At the famous Prtihvi Theatre a subsidiary of the Shri Prithviraj Kapoor Memorial Trust & Research Foundation the atmosphere is buzzing. There are writer, directors, performers and a fabulous team of Thespo volunteers beaming in their green Thespo18 Festival t-shirts.  We are in Prithvi House, the studio space. The capacity in a standard Indian 'as many as we can possibly squeeze in' and the house is full!

Having come together as a company just over 2 weeks ago, it was a joy to hear the audience laugh with recognition, see them moved by the women's personal stories, their hopes, their fears and the understanding towards the end when one audience member put it in the talkback "I realised from watching this performance, that whether you are a man or a woman, we don't always have the answers and we never may have all the answers but that's alright". Another audience member said that on seeing this show he felt that he understood more about what it is like to be a young women in Mumbai and saw his sisters around him differently as a result. 

Dolly Thakore (casting director for the film Gandhi amongst other notable work) was keen for the show to tour locally at events that she is involved with as part of her charity. Who knows what's next for 'Mujer'.... 

 I do know that I look forward to seeing what Lyra, Tanvi, Thanu, Gauri, Mati, Urmilia and Riya get up to next and over years to come.  I will be watching this space, always wishing them the very best that life can offer and very grateful that our paths came together in this beautiful collaboration of 'Mujer' #stormingthestage at Thespo18! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Week Two #MumbaiMashi

'Mujer' by any other name would be as sweet

Well… the good news is that we now have an additional hour to rehearse bringing our rehearsals to four hours a day. Phew!

We’ve focused on how to use a  Bunraku inspired (3 person operated puppet) and now we are figuring out exactly what this show is going to be. After exploring our role models, the general consensus was that “we don’t really have a role models.” There are definitely women that have inspired us, those that have pushed through the various challenges that still face women today and many are inspired by our mothers. We discovered that we are stirred too by the woman just a little older than us, with a little more wisdom and worldly experience; our next stage in life and sitting next to us on the bus, the one that just missed the auto-rickshaw and the ones that come to see our work, sitting in the audience directly in front of us. Our role models might be everywhere we go, if we choice to see them.

                                                  Mujer's secret message to Mati

Based on this, rough scenes in the rehearsal room are starting to take shape – the show will leave questions with the audience. This is our experience as young women in Mumbai so far, where might we go next?  The common language well… English, Hindi, Marati, Gujarati, Bengali and a little bit of French but above all truth. We have explored rituals of playing games, school, dating, being stood up and the ever eventful Indian transport system, all to the harmonic voices of Thanvi, Lyra and Urmila.

Remembering childhood games

The puppet – now known as ‘Mujer’ or ‘woman’ in Spanish (why not add another to our language list) is being skillfully operated by Thanu, Thanvu and Urmila. Did I mention these are six multi-talented women? We also addressed the title of the show – it’s one thing being asked to supply copy for a show you haven’t made yet, with people you’ve never met, but when you realise the Spanish word in an Indian mouth might well be pronounced “moo-ja” meaning ‘sock’ the audience could get a little confused.

Our fantastic stage manager, Riya is assuming a number of roles from taking on role of Assistant Director, sourcing of props, translating continuously and introducing me to the dentists nightmare of sweet‘cutting tea’ while the rest of the company are keen for me to try the array of Bombay Street food! What a team.

Next week is Thespo18 Festival time…

Friday, 9 December 2016

Rehearsals - Week One

On 28th Nov, I met seven young talented young women (6 performers & a stage manager - the luxury!). With an idea to make a show together about what it's like to be a woman growing up in modern day Mumbai, to learn puppetry skills for the first time, then showcase this work at Thespo 18 Festival and all in just 3 hrs rehearsals a day... who was it that told me I may sometimes be a little too ambitious?!

We got to know each other swiftly, playing games, sharing 'cutting tea', idlies and stories. Many humorous, some a little more painful but familiar to us, the way childhood fairy stories might be but more uncomfortable, with the conclusion yet to come.

Getting to know our puppet 'Mujer'with an intensive puppetry day, Sat 3rd Dec 2016.

Exploring who inspires us, they were mostly outside the formal education system! Using a little Frantic Assembly inspired movement.

 The day 'Mujer' nearly got hitched. She did look beautiful!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

In pictures

                                         Sunset at Juju beach

                                      The source of pages...
        No bookshop is complete without a tree at its centre.

                                  Coming soon to Prithvi Theatre

                                                 Man in a van

                                                  Juhu sunset 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Mashi's Mumbai Arrival

After reluctantly leaving Ahmedabad, my new friends, social life (this is India after all) and dream of permanently working with the brilliant Manav Sadhana. Amidst pockets of time in the Gandhian research team, who are the most humble and extremely knowledgeable folks I've ever had the pleasure to spend time with. I arrived in Mumbai.

The good news- I was able to get 2000 out of the cash machine.

The bad news- no-one has any change to be able to accept it!

The better news - the Indian heart is bigger than I could possibly imagine.

 Once again, I have no option but to ride the wave of that beautiful blend of human kindness and hold on tight, you never know what's going to happen. Especially when you're in a car intentionally driving the wrong way down the road and when you go to click in your belt in you realise the connector has been cut out, wonder why and look up to see the headlights of A bus coming towards you.

Both myself and currently unnamed 'mujer' puppet beautifully designed and made by Sue Pyecroft met with Meghana from Thespo after months of Skyping! I can confirm that they are super lovely, super keen & super efficient. I think we're going like Mumbai...

Welcome to Mumbai 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Monkeying around with Gandhi

Made it to India with 530 Rupees in my pocket. Enough to get me a small bottle of water and a rickshaw to where I'm staying.

Oh yeah - no one can get any money out of the banks as the government has announced that all 500 and 1000 rupee notes are now illegal. Rich in people's kindness and sheer generosity of which here at the Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat there is an abundance. I now see where you Leicester folks get it.

More soon. Internet very unreliable as it seems are the banks!