'Let Me In' - Now Playing at the PNCA Auditorium, Islamabad

'Let Me In' - Now Playing at the PNCA Auditorium, Islamabad
Click on the image to visit the play's official Facebook group.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Curtain...

Well, tomorrow is opening night. Tomorrow at eight o'clock in the evening, the curtain will rise, and for the first time, an audience outside the Living Picture camp will view Let Me In, and the penning of reviews will begin.

Naturally, I should be running round in circles going wild with panic. What the hell am I doing here, then? I guess I'm just basically taking a breather - going round and round in circles requires energy, you know. And I'm also giving myself a moment to reflect on the months of madness and mayhem that have led up to this point.

It's been a long road.

This project actually began in October 2008. Well, it wasn't exactly born then. Perhaps not even conceived, exactly. At this point, it was more just a glint in my eye. It was a three-play idea; I wanted to adapt three Stephen King stories for the stage. I hadn't decided which stories - that was an extremely tough decision process - but I was considering Misery, Salem’s Lot and perhaps The Mist. A three-day performance. The project couldn’t materialize then, but it was always at the back of my mind. Funny story: I was inspired to take it up again this year after watching back-to-back seasons of Supernatural and The X-Files. This time, though, I was less foolhardy: I spent around a month finalizing which novel to adapt, and it was a monologue from one of the characters (which I obviously won’t reveal) that did it for me. Many people will watch this play and find some of the characters to be clever references to very real, local elements.

I am happy to report that my creative voice went stark raving while writing the script. =D I may have been writing an adaptation, certainly, but I always love messing with the original text, making it more 'my own'. I believe the play's greatest strength will be its plot and character development, mostly because it's not just your average shocker with thrills galore; it's got all the supernatural elements and it makes a rather apt commentary on real-life things. The play also leaves you with a 'What if this happened to me? How would I have reacted? What would I have done?' feeling, which I'm proud of. You're left wondering by the end of it, asking yourself a lot of questions. Of course, for the more traditional horror lover, there are plenty of surprises in store. I'm hoping audiences will be on the edge of their seats, struck by both the swift action and the dialogue.

Interesting fact: the ending I originally wrote for the play was deemed too controversial to stage, so I changed it just two weeks before the play was scheduled to begin. Mad times, but then, don’t we all thrive on pressure and stress?

Meanwhile, the set design was the mother of all challenges – not that Islamabad hasn’t seen ‘interior’ sets before, but perhaps never one quite like this one. There were a lot of technical difficulties, a lot of sleepless nights before we decided on something that would be pleasing to the eye, cool, and yet technically efficient as well. This is the first play I’m doing where there are so many characters onstage throughout the play, and with so much action happening onstage; sometimes simultaneously.

Which reminds me: far as length goes, this is my shortest play so far.

Casting was that five-lettered cuss word; most of the ‘regulars’ I’ve worked with in my previous plays had either shifted cities or countries or had lost their passion for theatre. So, barring a couple of old ’uns, I was treading unknown territory. But at the same time, it felt so good to be back in the casting chair – took me back three years. I was nervous, afraid I’d lost my touch, but ask any actor now and they’ll go: he’s still the same slave-driving bitch. (Whoops.)

To my immense delight, the new lot I’ve worked with are just as passionate about the stage as actors used to be four years ago, when theatre was this bright and beautiful thing. Now, with plays being churned out left, right, and centre, I was afraid because of all the saturation, it might have diluted the energy and drive of actors. I was proven wrong, and for that I am both grateful and proud. It’s been a journey fraught with much emotion, and I’m sure my cast has a bitch-letter of two they’d like to post in anonymously, but it’s been worth it. And fun, despite the rather grim & gruesome theme. A play is only as good as its weakest actor, and I’m proud to say that judging by that standard, we have a hit on our hands.

What I’m most proud of, though, is that this team dove headfirst into this project with the same fearlessness as I did. They knew the risks: this is no musical-slash-farce and is of course, not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But they chose this project nonetheless; they trusted in me. That, in itself, no matter what the fate of the play, is reason enough to celebrate.

Anyway, I'll close this rambling blog-post here and get back to work. You know, I've been maintaining an average of three hours' sleep since the play really took off. They tell you directing a play is a lot of mayhem, heartache, tensions aplenty, disappointment, blind rage - and they're right.

But what they often forget to add is that it's always worth it.


Atoofa Najeeb said...

All the best hope people will love it.....!

AM said...

Lovely reading your blog post.. Hope to see your plays someday!