FirstAct: In 'Star Light', a story of love and friendship blossoming in the joy and warmth of Christmas
Alienstar Collective Theatre's (ACT) Star Light is the story of Aarya and Vinayak, two seemingly opposite individuals who evolve from being strangers to friends, to maybe even something more.
Editor's note: With FirstAct, Firstpost is collaborating with theatre and improv artists from all over India, who'll perform short pieces or readings over a Zoom video-conference call.
After FirstAct's debut show with Improv Comedy Bangalore, followed by Drama Queen's For Tomorrow, Theatre Jil Jil Ramamani's Haiku in a Bun, OGLAM's Abey Yaar!, Chanakya Vyas' Leftovers, MD Pallavi's Salt and Akhoka Theatre's Between the Banks, we are all set to present our next — Star Light. It will be broadcast on our Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages (IGTV) at 7 pm IST on 25 December, 2020.
Following is an edited excerpt of an interaction between the writer and director Alistar Prem Bennis, and actors Gouri Bhuyan, Robbin Singh and Harsh Shah of Alienstar Collective Theatre's upcoming production - Star Light on Firstpost.
A story of friendship and love that blooms in the warmth of Christmas. A story of the miracles that human relationships often are. Fraught with humour, tension, love and drama, Star Light is the story of Aarya and Vinayak, two seemingly opposite individuals who evolve from being strangers to friends, to maybe even something more.
Foray into the digital space
GOURI BHUYAN — As someone who has thrived in the live element of theatre, I initially found the concept of online theatre rather dubious. In the spirit of "Yes And"-ing, however, I actually found myself quite enjoying performing and thinking within the box. It is quite interesting because up until March this year, no one would have really thought that we'd be working with technology, with connectivity in different ways. As humans, we long for connection and we found a way through which we'd be able to interact.
It was an exciting feeling to explore a new medium for performance. There were challenges but it is just reassuring to see the innovative ways in which the online medium is being explored. In the past year, the number of low budget innovations in this field that have come out is mind-boggling.
Major changes and challenges in the process
ALISTAR PREM BENNIS — As a director, you need to trust your team but at the same time you need to back them up and help them grow. Watching my light designers take up roles similar to an editor or my stage manager; learning new software like OBS, was fruitful although it took quite some time to adapt. The absence of depth perception like in film or the live element of theatre challenged us creators to explore new techniques such as the use of green screens and interactive improvisation. Structurally I believe the core is still the same from script to stage!
ROBBIN SINGH — As an actor, I believe the most important bit was to be actively aware of the camera and especially the distance from the camera while performing. Framing and positioning oneself while performing felt a bit restricted when compared to performing for the stage. This made me again realise the importance of listening to each other, and how crucial it is especially for the digital space.
Another challenge for me, personally, has been doing all the stage management by myself. We have had to be our own costume, logistics and props departments, and while that has certainly expanded my skill set, I'm not sure it is a change that the actor in me has taken to very kindly.
Themes and thoughts behind the project
HARSH SHAH — I think the feelings I have always associated with Christmas are happiness, love and warmth (note the irony of the season). And given how lonely this pandemic has been for most of us, those alone and accompanied, there is nothing better and more comforting than an old school rom-com. We want to leave our viewers with a feeling of love and the sense of hope for the future that it affords us. And God knows, many of us are in desperate need of a Christmas miracle to turn this year around, even through the wonders our imaginations afford us.
GOURI BHUYAN — I got through the lockdown only because of my theatre troupe who are my closest friends and family. The warmth of Christmas comes when we are surrounded by our loved ones. The feeling of knowing that these people will always have your back and together you will pull through is a theme that stitched this play together. It reminds us to always generously share our love.
Watch Alienstar Collective Theatre's Star Light here.
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