Wednesday, 9 December 2015

British Asian Festival: Scratch performances - Rifco Associates

Friday 22 January 2016, 7pm, The Studio @ Watford Palace Theatre

Free event, book online:

15 minute scratch performances of new writing by four Rifco Associates from the theatre company’s artist development scheme.

Bollywood Rose by Sumerah Srivastav & Ajay Srivastav

Bollywood Rose follows the story of Nikita, a self-confessed 'dutiful girl' until she meets the man her parents want her to marry. Unable to voice her unhappiness and desperate to escape Nikita stumbles into the worst possible place - a romantic Bollywood movie.

Brownie Club by Jessica Lucia Andrade

Aerialist Jessica presents a physical comedy exploring how it feels to be a brown woman in Britain.

Salvage by Amarjit Bassan

A confident teenager is forced to question his role as the family saviour after his wayward brother unexpectedly arrives at his school.

Dragasauras by Yasmin Whittaker-Khan

A story of three British Asian drag queens all at different stages of their Drag life who are planning to start a club night in London.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Sukh Ojla: Gravesend Project - Rehearsals & Sharing

There were two days of rehearsals set aside for the sharing. I was lucky enough to work with two experienced actors, Narinder Samra and Sheena Patel. The rehearsal process was even more more useful than I had imagined.  After the initial read through of the play it became much clearer to me what I needed to work on. Even though I created the characters, and being an actor myself it is easy for me to imagine them and what they sound like, having actors read the lines really bought them to life. The actors improvised around the scenes and were briefly hot seated. I got a much better idea of the characters objectives and it made me think about their foibles and more detailed nuances in dialogue.

Following the first day of rehearsals, Pravesh and I met to discuss how to develop the script. I made some adjustments to the script. I spent the evening and the next morning re-writing parts of the script. It was hugely useful to get feedback from Pravesh, although frustrating because I wanted to rewrite huge sections of the script and add scenes but unfortunately due to the time constraint this wasn't possible.

The next day we met in the afternoon to read through the latest version of the script. I made some minor changes to the script. The actors were left to make themselves familiar with the script.

The sharing in the evening was attended by fairly large number of people. I was understandably nervous. I felt that as the writer, there was a lot responsibility on my shoulders to make the experience an enjoyable one! Thankfully, the response as overwhelmingly positive. It was heartening to speak to members of the community afterwards who were excited to know what would happen next with the play. 

I spoke with Pravesh after the sharing and we were both pleased with how it went. He advised me to continue writing and to send him a completed first draft as soon as possible.

More about this project: Sukh Ojla - Gravesend Project

Developed by: Rifco & The Woodville
Seeded by: Greenhouse

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Jessica Lucia Andrade: In the studio creating my piece

Today we focussed on the linear progression of my piece and incorporating the stories I have and putting them up in the air!

Towards the end of the day I showed what I had to Pravesh, who was extremely encouraging. Now I need to focus on the script so that I can easily work with the movement.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Amarjit Bassan: My own own personal Dramaturg

I had a telephone conversation with Louise Stephens, the Dramaturg Rifco assigned to me. As well as being really lovely she gave me some excellent suggestions. I had only worked on screenplays till now and so the general rule I had followed said that you should have a clear plot outline before you write. I had been quite fixed in that process.

Louise suggested putting my characters in different scenarios (past, present and future) and seeing what would happen. How would they react? What would make them tick? It was really quite liberating. It really helped as I began developing a back story. 

A week later and I have produced the first draft of my scratch piece. Let's see what Louise thinks...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Amarjit Bassan: New ideas

I met with Pravesh today and we spoke about the outline for my story. He sensed (quite accurately) that it wasn't the strongest story I could write. As this shall eventually be my first play he wanted something from my heart, something that means something to me, something that only I could write. If I was honest with myself, perhaps I did look at all of my ideas and think "Hmm, I have all of these ideas but this one...Rifco would probably like this one". 

Despite me working hard on perfecting my pitch and story outline, there was a sense of relief. I marched off promising two new ideas. But I knew which one I wanted to start on.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Ajay Srivastav: Bollywood Rose - First Meeting 

Really excited to meet Holly and Pravesh. They both made us feel really comfortable and represented. I felt Rifco understood what we want to say with our piece and saw our desire to tell an entertainment with a message. Loved the vibe, it was really positive and had a real sense of – let’s do this!

Sumerah Srivastav: Bollywood Rose - First Meeting

I’m really excited to be a Rifco Associate and work with like-minded people in a safe and supportive environment. Our project is a big undertaking and after our first meeting I feel certain that we have found the right home to develop it further.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Jessica Lucia Andrade: Brownie Club - Training

This week I have been training at National Centre For Circus Arts to strengthen my moves and stamina.
I have been playing with shapes that I can hold and then the next stage would be to practice voice with the stories I have.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Jessica Lucia Andrade: Brownie Club - First Meeting

I am extremely grateful to have been given the Seed Commission by Rifco Arts, as this has enabled me to get the support I need to finally put my creative ideas from page to stage.

My meeting with Holly and Pravesh was refreshing to meet such welcoming people in the arts that are willing to develop my idea and nurture me as an artist.

We sat down and talked about my artistic vision and how they can help with producing, dramaturgy and putting my showcase piece on at Watford Palace.

After my individual meeting with them we met the other artists they are commissioning, it was lovely hearing their ideas and artistic journeys. 

I look forward to January to see how each one has developed so far.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Amarjit Bassan: Tape Knot - First Meeting

Meeting Pravesh and Holly at Rifco was an enjoyable and nurturing experience. I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity. I have worked with RIFCO as an actor but am not taking our history for granted. If anything it will me compel me to push myself harder.

I was made to feel that I could clearly state my needs without feeling it would be an inconvenience. I was open and honest about where I feel I am as a writer and what my aims are. I feel I work best when I have deadlines looming over me; a structured and methodical approach. I like lists and timeframes. I value honest and brutal feedback.

Pravesh and Holly instinctively knew I needed. They could see that I want to make a big mark as a writer and sought to put things in place; dramaturges, help with finding an agent, funding applications, etc. They shared their ethos that this project is about setting up long term collaborations and paving the way for new work. This aligned perfectly with my vision as a writer. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Sukh Ojla: Gravesend Workshop 2

Workshop 2: Held at The Woodville on Thursday, 15th October 2015

We had nine participants for this workshop, including two women in their 20's and a male participant. The majority of attendees were in the 40s and early 50s, including the two women from the previous workshop. Because of the larger group Abdul and I went back to the original planned workshop structure. We started off with a name game in order to ease into the workshop. Most people knew each other or at least of each other as it's a fairly small community.

In order to get the discussion going Abdul and I presented the group with some statements and asked them to move to opposite sides of the room depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with them. We used a mix of light hearted statements and some more controversial ones i.e "Interracial marriages are more likely to end in divorce." This exercise led to a lot of lively discussion between the group. It was very useful that the group was made up of outspoken and confident people who were not afraid to voice their opinions. Again, we heard a lot of conservative views but what was interesting was the number of women who spoke of unhappy marriages, alcoholism within the Indian community and the difference between how men and women are treated within the home. These were recurring themes along with the recent election of the President of local Gurdwara (Sikh temple).

We ended the session with two questions:

"If there is a story to be told about Gravesend what would it be?"

"Which story wouldn't you like told about Gravesend?"

The participants unanimously agreed that the success of this close knit community should be shown. They all felt proud of the achievements of the first Indian people to come to Gravesend from India. They were all adamant that they didn't want the negative aspects of Gravesend shown.

Towards the end of the session one of the participants felt that she wanted to speak about some of the subjects that came up in depth, such as mental health issues within the community and I have arranged to meet with her next week.

More about this project: Sukh Ojla - Gravesend Project

Developed by: Rifco & The Woodville
Seeded by: Greenhouse

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Sukh Ojla: Gravesend Workshop 1

Workshop 1: Held at The Woodville on Wednesday, 14th October 2015

Prior to this workshop Abdul Shayek, the workshop facilitator, and I had met to discuss the themes I wanted to explore in the workshops and the format I wanted them to take. The dilemma I had was that I didn't want the subject matter to be too specific or too general. I wanted to be open to hearing  from the participants and this can be difficult if there is a strict workshop structure. 

My aim for these workshops was to create a safe and positive environment for the participants to share their stories. Having facilitated workshops in the past I knew that there is an element of uncertainty involved. It's not always a definite as to who will attend or which way the workshop will go.

Having spent the best part of the last decade living away from Gravesend one of my aims was to see what has changed within the community. Are family structures still the same? Is divorce more widely accepted and are young British Asians still expected to marry within their religion? 

There were two participants for this workshop, two women in their 40s and 50s. It was clear from the outset that they both felt a pressing desire to speak to us about their personal lives and their histories. Abdul and I felt it would be more beneficial if instead of a running through a set of workshop exercises we let them share their stories and then have more of an informal discussion about the themes that cropped up. 

It was interesting to hear from this demographic as I'd never had the experience of speaking with British Asian women of this age. I discovered that although I was familiar with the stories of their parents, people who migrated to the UK in the 1960s and 70s I didn't necessarily have much of an idea what difficulties and issues their children faced once they'd reached middle age.

After they shared some of their stories it was easier to pick out the recurring themes and to expand on them. Alcoholism, the recent and ongoing influx of Punjabi migrants to the area and their own marriages seemed to crop up a lot. 

This workshop was hugely useful and I feel got a great deal from it not only from listening to these women's stories but also they were interesting from a character study point of view. 

More about this project: Sukh Ojla - Gravesend Project

Developed by: Rifco & The Woodville
Seeded by: Greenhouse

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sukh Ojla: Gravesend Workshop Cultivation Event

A cultivation event was held on Sunday 27th September at The Woodville. Being a Sunday afternoon I didn't expect a large turnout, but also knowing the local community I was aware that there is a lack of engagement with the arts and maybe there would be some apprehension about getting involved with the project.

The attendees included a Rifco Arts Ambassador who will be attending one of the workshops in October. As an artist and performer she was interested in the project and keen to learn more and get involved. Also attending was a  local British Asian family who have lived in the area for a long time and know it and the community very well. It was encouraging to talk to them as they are keen theatre goers and passionate about more relevant, high end British Asian theatre being produced. Their daughter and her friends hope to attend one of the evening workshops. They will be spreading the word about the workshops, which will hopefully lead to a healthy number of participants!

It was extremely useful to speak with someone who is not only was a gatekeeper to the community but also realises the importance of bringing a British Asian theatre production to Gravesend. All three of them really enjoyed the two Rifco productions that were on at The Woodville and were keen to see what would happen with this project.

More about this project: Sukh Ojla - Gravesend Project

Developed by: Rifco & The Woodville
Seeded by: Greenhouse

Monday, 24 August 2015

Sukh Ojla: Gravesend Project

In the last year Rifco have successfully toured two productions to The Woodville, Gravesend - Happy Birthday Sunita and The Deranged Marriage.

Rifco, working in partnership with The Woodville recognise the appetite from the local community for British Asian work and engagement with their local arts space. The ambition of this project for both companies is to engage with the local community and nurture talent to inspire and create the next generation of theatre maker.

Rifco Associate Sukh Ojla, who is a Gravesend resident will be working on the project to develop a new script. 

Members of the local community will be invited to attend research workshops in October to share their ideas, experiences and stories. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with Sukh and talk about the issues that they would like to explore; the things that are current in their households, their community.

Sukh will be supported by Rifco's Artistic Director, a Dramaturg and a workshop facilitator to aid the development of the script.

At the end of the workshop series, Sukh will have the opportunity to go away and pull some of the stories together into a narrative. The narrative will be performed in an informal sharing in December at The Woodville.

Developed by: Rifco & The Woodville

Seeded by: Greenhouse