Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Stories from the Professional Theatre Training Program: Sehar Bhojani and Secrets from the Disgraced Rehearsal Hall

Our Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) offers financial support for unique and flexible training with a chosen mentor in any theatrical discipline (except performance.)

Sehar Bhojani of Hamilton is training in directing with Robert Ross Parker at Hope and Hell Theatre

(March 21, 2016) I cannot even begin to describe the generosity and support that is held in the Mirvish rehearsal hall. You feel it before you walk in. There is a sense of a collective understanding of the importance of the story of Disgraced, and it is humbling to be in the room to witness it. Director Robert Ross Parker and I have quickly found a language where we can communicate about the play and with the actors. Since day one, all discussions have been deemed dialogues. We talk. We challenge. We laugh (so much laughing). We eat Timbits. I feel so fortunate to be in the room.

Patience. This is a word I don’t think I ever quite understood until being on the other side of the table, watching a scene be discovered for the first time. All of my experience has been in performance, where I confess my goal was always to ‘get it right’ the first time. But watching the skill that is patience being executed by the experienced talent in the room is extraordinary. We began with just a set and the words of the playwright. Now, there are relationships and moments of connection that have moved me, frightened me and most importantly, have challenged my relationship to humanity. And it’s only been two weeks!

I am learning so much about how I behave in the room. As an actor, I only ever felt responsible for my character’s journey. As a director, there needs to be a constant active awareness of all the moving pieces that tell the story. I am learning that I enjoy and have the ability to maintain this constant active awareness. Seeing the full picture and thinking of all of the moving pieces excites me as an artist. It can be challenging to maintain but incredibly satisfying to engage in.

In addition to my duties as assistant director, I have been charged with the responsibility of being the ‘Muslim’ eye in the room. Essentially, this means being available to answer any and all questions about my experience as a young Muslim woman, the only voice I can speak to, in relation to the play. This can be tricky, depending on the artistic team. However, never once have I felt like I needed to be the authority on Islam as the only Muslim in the room. The amount of respect and dedication to authenticity is remarkable and makes me proud to be a part of the Disgraced team.

We are almost two weeks away from opening and we are in great shape. I feel as though we are right in the thick of it. The piece is now a living and breathing animal, and I am so excited to continue the work of deepening and asking the necessary questions this play demands of an artist.

Related Reading

The next application deadline for the Professional Theatre Training Program is October 3, 2016.

Theatre Ontario’s Professional Theatre Training Program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

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