Yesterday I sat around a table for five hours with four actors and a director going over my script with a fine toothed comb. Earlier this year I wrote a play and submitted it to an open call by Kali Theatre in London and was selected to go on their writers development programme. So beginning in May, once every fortnight, I would attend a day-long workshop with playwrights and directors learning how to tell a story for theatre.
And after every session, I would tweak my initial script a little bit, sometimes even chopping whole sections out (a most painful amputation, I must say) because they didn’t work. I further worked on it while in India on holiday, seeking input from talented friends and family. I submitted my final draft in early September and found out some weeks later that my script had been selected for a rehearsed reading planned in January.
It was as part of this programme that I attended yesterday’s workshop. At one point, I was so overwhelmed to hear five other artists discussing, challenging and shredding my script to its bare bones. They care enough about the characters I created, I thought to myself. They are not indifferent to them. The actors who are playing them want to know more about these imaginary people I have given birth to. Who are they? Why are they reacting to each other this way? What has gone on before that informs these words they utter?
As a creative being, I have never felt more validation in my work than when I was sitting cross-legged on that chair surrounded by artists who wanted to breathe life into and embody my creations in the best possible way. I could not have asked for more. And then it got better.
Later, as I was waiting for my train, one of the actors from the workshop who was with me at the station, told me that only last year he had lost his 22-year old sister. She was bipolar and had taken her own life. And the mother in my play who loses her 22-year old daughter, reminded him uncannily of his own mother in the way she handles her loss on an everyday basis.
I don’t know what it was about his confession that really moved me. May be it was that even though I was a stranger to him, this young man thought I knew what his mother must be going through because I had imagined her pain. May be I just became aware of the power of art to move, inspire and ultimately heal people. I was staggered by the chord I had struck. I could have cried at that moment. And I did.