Taking Challenges Head on!
The making of Black White and Life In Between: Chapter 2
Challenges and unforeseen circumstances are not new to the Tiatr-O! community. However, some challenges and some events are worth the memory space they occupy in the minds. This was one such occasion.
We had staged multiple shows of our flagship production, 'Black White and Life In Between' for a corporate client, delighting hundreds of their employees across four months. The client one fine day came up with an unexpected request - they asked us to produce a completely new play on the themes of unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion for an upcoming annual mega event . They wanted a completely new show with no repetition of earlier themes. Putting up a professional play takes months of efforts that include script writing, identifying the cast and crew members, rehearsals, practices, designing costumes and music, tech rehearsals and finally putting up a show! We were not ready for this turn of events, not just because of the above reasons but also because this show was supposed to be put up in front of a 600 plus strong corporate audience, in less than 3 weeks. We took up this challenge and agreed to put up a professional show. Thus was born 'Black, White and Life In between; Chapter 2'.
What followed was days and nights of hard work. Availability of Tiatr-O! member actors at such a short notice was difficult. We wrote a completely new script and auditioned a number of actors from outside the Tiatr-O! community, to fill in for the roles that were vacant. The client was very particular about what we were going to showcase. This meant that we had to vet the script with the client and had to go through multiple iterations before the final script was approved.
One of the dancers backed out at the last minute and we had to salvage this not very pleasant surprise as quickly as possible. After we auditioned a number of people unsatisfactorily, a good friend referred an artist from Pune. We saw her work and immediately brought her on board, to our relief, with very less time in hand. We had the artist travel to Mumbai for rehearsals and that was to become the highlight of the show that we were going to put up.
And then there was a monologue that was written from scratch and was to be performed by an actor who faced a last minute health situation in the family. This situation left very less time at disposal for the artist, who was not accustomed to the kind of language and verse used in this particular monologue. With additional hours of practice, he was finally able to get ready for the big show just in time.
And then, there was the issue of getting the chemistry between actors right, simply because it was a mix of old and new actors. And then there was an actor who was working with us on stage after a very long time. Make-up is an integral part of the show and we passed on part of the challenge on to the make-up artist who had to completely transform two of the actors to play their characters. So, it was not a simple touch up make-up effort to make the actors look good on stage.
Music and light design is an important aspect. Would you believe that we designed the music in one day and the light design happened about an hour prior to the show? But what a marvelous piece of music and lights show it turned out to be. We were experimenting with a digital backdrop for the first time, in sync with the lights and music and we had just about an hour before the show to sync these pieces together, at the venue. And that turned out to be the best part of the show in addition to the splendid performance put up by the actors.
The language had to be right, the time was tight and rushing against time was a fight but we were able to put up the best show in our history in front of a mammoth audience in a five star hotel in Mumbai. And what a show it was, thanks to the team effort of every member of the cast and crew, a representation of the team work that Tiatr-O! as a community stands for. Challenge accepted and delivered....and how!