Suno Suno – how will we create a script together?

So the project – and possibly the play – has a title and I am now wondering how we will manage to construct a text through a long distance relationship conducted in three languages (only one of which, my own, that I understand).

During our visit we were shown the street play that Swatantra had most recently performed in the basti, based on some of the narratives that the Research Assistants have been gathering. The play had managed to stimulate a lot of debate amongst the audience as it showed the story of someone who had struggled to cope with a series of setbacks. After watching it people were ready to come forward to share their own stories of how they had bounced back from often really challenging events that had occurred in their lives.

The play that we made together tried a new tack – to focus not so much on stories of individuals facing challenging lives but to explore the importance and the role of neighbours in the basti. With only a couple of days to devise and rehearse the play we came up with a series of vignettes that showed the differing ways in which neighbours may be supportive and helpful, and tried to create a theatrical language that was playful and which created a series of tableaux which presented perhaps a more heightened visual language than the previous play.

Whilst this street play was well received, the feedback from the group after the performances was that the debate that was stimulated was not as lively as with the previous show. It was thought that perhaps the question of ‘what makes a good neighbour?’ was sightly less focussed and perhaps more difficult to answer; although people did offer their thoughts – this time being invited into the performance space to share them, which was not the case before and which may have something to do with the level of debate that took place.

Over the next two months we will be focussing on two things as we develop the larger community play that sits at the heart of this project. The first is to develop levels of participation in the project, with Swatantra running a series of workshops to ensure that we find ways to involve as many people as possible in the performance and the creation of the show.  The second – which is where my work will take place – is the writing of the script, which will be based on the narratives and life stories that the Research Assistants are gathering; many of which have and will come from those who have volunteered to share information after seeing the street plays that have been performed in the basti.

Swatantra have a writing team in place, and a tradition of creating street plays that are dialogue heavy and which use ways of addressing an audience that they know work in this context. But at the same time we are trying to create something that is much larger in scope than a street play. I hope that between us – through email conversations, face to face discussions (Skype / WhatsApp etc), the sharing of narrative ideas and sections of script – that we can come up with something that uses all the most potent tools of the street play technique with a more visual language; and perhaps which plays with narrative in such a way as to allow a greater breadth of perspective on the story that we decide to tell. It’s going to be a very interesting challenge for all of us.


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