A few people asked me about the process of my production, “Displaced”, and how it came about. After some thinking, I decided it would be a good idea to write a post summing up what I did, and how things worked out!
My first step, of course, was research. I spent a lot of time looking for a variety of sources. To find the actual refugee stories, I used a lot of NGO websites like “Save the Children” and UNHCR. For statistics and factual evidence, I relied on news sources such as NPR, BBC, and Al Jazeera.
After I had gained a lot of knowledge about the different areas of conflict that I was hoping to focus on, I began constructing characters and using real events to shape their stores. Working for about three or four hours each day in the summer, I finally wrote out the narrations for the pieces. In addition, I met with Mrs. Minnie Homchowdhury, an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer in Austin, to discuss my project and receive advice on choreography. I also spoke to Ms. Patricia Hagen, the then Austin Program Director of GirlForward, about creating my event as a fundraiser for the organization. Furthermore, before school started, I had submitted my application for the Boyd Vance Theater at the George Washington Carver Center.
Once the school year began, I started working on choreography. I began by collecting different musical compositions via YouTube which I used to guide my dance choreography, based on the storylines. While I had originally intended to use Indian Classical Music with my choreographies, I later decided to use cultural music from each region, as to give the pieces specific identities. To choreograph, I would pick music pieces for different moods and portions of my story, and then use the rhythm and tunes to create my dances. Once my choreography was finalized, I used the editing software Audacity to smooth out the transitions. In October, I was coordinating with the Carver Center about my reservation. I had some trouble getting the date I wanted, since February, my intended time, was peak season for the Carver. Therefore, while I had hoped to stage my production in late February, the only day available was January 21st, and I thus had to work harder to make this possible.
Thanksgiving Break was the largest stretch of hard work for my project, and I found myself working over eight hours each day. That week, I refined my script and rehearsed with Ms. Rujuta Narweker, a local theatre artist who volunteered to narrate the stories. She also connected me to Mrs. Cortney DeAngelo, a light designer, Mr. Mohan Rokkam, who wanted to help with the sound, and Mr. Jay Parmar, who wished to aid with stage assistance, all of whom volunteered their efforts for this cause. I also took the time during the break to get together my media pieces, such as the video clips, create the pamphlets for the show, and figure out my costume. Finally, towards the end of the week, I sent out a “Save the Date “ email with information about the production to a large list of people that I knew, including Meridian World School community, the Austin Indian classical performing arts community, the Sahaja Yoga community, the Austin ceramic community, and the Dell community, as well as neighbors, family, and friends.
In December, I release the tickets to those on my email list, and publicized “Displaced” as a Facebook event. The response was wonderful, and the show was sold out within 48 hours, meaning that we had to request extra seating from the Carver. I was so surprised by the amount of people who expressed their support and interest, and was humbled by everyone’s enthusiasm.