A play to bring humour and warmth in these unsettling times

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Raveesh Jaiswal

By Siddhi Jain

New Delhi– An upcoming play titled ‘The Covid-19 Do-Over Marriage’, written by Sarah Congress and directed by Bombay Theatre Company’s Raveesh Jaiswal, will bring to the digital stage the story of a New York City couple arguing over whether to have a child or not, against the backdrop of the pandemic.

How the play came about is an interesting story in itself. Sarah Congress, who writes scripts for theatre and television and books for musical theater in New York, said she came across Bombay Theatre Company on Instagram one day when while exploring virtual theatre hashtags.

She got in touch after watching BTC’s collaborative theatre initiative ‘The Theatre Project 2020′ and saw that they were the one of the only few theatre groups staging shows online in this pandemic.

“I sent a message to the theatre company asking if they were accepting submissions. I then sent several 10 minute comedies I had written for zoom/virtual platforms since the start of the pandemic to Raveesh Jaiswal. He responded very well to The Covid-19 Do-Over Marriage and asked me if I would be interested in a collaboration with Bombay Theatre Company for Instagram Live. So here we are,” Congress told IANSlife over email.

“I wrote The Covid-19 Do-Over Marriage as a response to the pandemic. I wanted to bring humor, warmth and compassion to this unsettling time in history by creating a relatable story of a couple in New York City arguing over whether to have a child or not. Their argument falls to the wayside as they realize what is truly important: love, humanity, and the precious moments we have on this earth.”

The play has Luke Hofmaier, Aleigha Spinks and Jeffrey James Keyes as the cast, who Jaiswal says are rehearsing on Zoom and Instagram.

“Since I was aware of the challenges which might come up in context to doing a virtual play, I had a clear rehearsal schedule in place. Initially we started with the play reading sessions on Zoom. During the reading sessions we had a lot of fruitful team conversations where we sliced and diced the entire play and also discussed character traits of each part in detail. Once the actors were familiar with their lines and their character sketches, I started blocking the play on Zoom. Fixing the background frames and movements (how so ever restricted they may be) was crucial. Once the blocking was done, we started with play run through sessions on Zoom. After almost a week of doing run throughs on Zoom, we moved to Instagram,” Jaiswal, the play director, told IANSlife.

Via alternate profiles on Instagram, the actors went live and rehearsed. “During the Instagram rehearsal sessions, I along with Sarah join in as audience members and watch the live play run through session. Post this session, we all connect on Zoom for debriefing. This approach helps us in building a culture of inclusivity and every cast and crew member benefits from advice and constructive criticism of others. All the rehearsal sessions are saved on the platform as IGTVs so that the cast can later watch themselves from an audiences’ point of view and understand their improvement pointers, if any,” he said.

The play can be seen on February 13, 10.30 p.m. IST on Instagram LIVE at Bombay Theatre Company’s Instagram page. (IANS)

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