Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hopefully, a Chorus Line: The 'Bhopal' Tour

Ilanna left today with the ensemble to tour 'Bhopal' to three festivals in India and Nepal.  She is the Chorus Leader and choreographer, and writes about her thoughts, concerns, and excitement about introducing new Chorus members during the tour!

Birsa, one of my fellow chorus members in Bhopal (and the only other chorus member to be embarking on our upcoming India and Nepal tour), asked it most succinctly when he looked at me after our show at the South Asian Theater Festival, a bit bewildered, and asked, “How are we going to train new chorus members in a couple hours what took us two months to learn?”

Ilanna rehearses with the rest of the cast in New Jersey.
Feeling optimistic (and hoping to appear so to appease his worried glance), I casually replied, “Don’t worry! It took us a month and three weeks to figure out what we were doing, and only about a week to internalize it and make it look flawless!” This statement is more true than false, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s 100% truthful. 

I am concerned about how we will transpose the images that we spent weeks creating to a new stage, with a new group of chorus members, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Birsa and I know the play and the chorus’s parts so well now. Much of the trickiness comes from timing -- when’s the exact moment the chorus enters (in the light? or at the whistle sound cue?), when do we take a step as a group (are we following the leader? or waiting for the word “no”?), how many seconds do we count before we break our held poses (I know this one... it’s 8). 

Between the two of us, I think we will be able to direct traffic well. What we don't have quite enough time to perfectly teach, the chorus will pick up by our example.  Joanna, the director, has the chorus doing a series of repetitive movements throughout the play that are simple to teach and easy to learn.  The beauty and impact for the audience comes from the simplicity, timing, and group mentality of our actions. I feel confident that once we teach our new chorus members the actions, they will effortlessly find their places onstage, and find their own ways to influence how we tell this story.

Above all, I am so excited to be interacting with new actors in each location we will be touring to. How exciting to get to meet local actors at each festival, who jump in and become part of a bigger story! I am looking forward to meeting our newest collaborators, who will add to our story and enrich our experience

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