Jun 14

A Rewarding Day in the Fabulous World of Writers

A Rewarding day in the Fabulous World of Writers


A couple of weeks ago I got a very special invitation by the Founder of Abhinay School of Performing Arts Aishveryaa Nidhi to participate as a guest actor at the Intensive Weekend Workshop on “How to Write a Ten Minutes Play” taught by the master of ten minute plays Alex Broun.


Writers and Actors - Photo courtesy of Abhinay School of Performing Arts

The course went from Friday till Sunday. The writers had their intensive sessions Friday evening, and the whole day on Saturday, where they learned what makes a good 10 minutes play, how to pitch the play and explore the ideas to develop into a good play, story and structure, how to rehearse a moved reading with the actors, how to create memorable characters and the important nature of surprise in theatre through character revelation.

In the end of day two, Saturday evening, the new writers went home with the task of writing their first 10 minutes play, and bring it in the following morning session ready to be workshopped with the actors, then explored and tested on the stage through readings and rehearsals throughout the Sunday morning and
afternoon session.

Then, in the last session of the course, in the end of Sunday’s afternoon, the course reached its climax by having all participants scripts performed through a moved reading by the actors for an audience, where the writers got to see how their work came to life on stage, and how the audience responded to it.

I and other guest actors came in to be part of the moved readings during the entire Sunday session.

To start the day Alex Broun guided us through a fun body and voice warm up session, following by great interactive games to get everybody to know each other.

Then all the writers line up on stage to pitch the stories in their 10 minutes plays and to start casting the actors to workshop their plays.

It was very impressive how the new writers had their 10 minutes play and pitch ready overnight. Most of them were not expecting to have all this happening in such short period of time. They had the stories in their mind, but not on paper yet, and they were given the challenge to have to present it about 16 hours later after their last session, and they made it.


Out of all the plays pitched, the one that got my attention the most was “Matriarch Sin” by Lulu Ruane Paton, first time ever writing, but brilliant material based on real stories. The play was about a conflict of mother and daughter meeting for the first time ever about 2 decades later since the mother abandoned the daughter as a baby. It would mean a lot to me to perform in that work and I really wanted Lulu to cast me for the role of the daughter.


Before Lulu have her turn to announce her chosen actors, I was cast in another play, “Saturday Night in Sydney” by Sam Dandy, a really fun play based also by real events experienced by the writer who is a taxi driver and has lots of stories to tell with such eventful job dealing with all sorts of people including the
very drunk ones on late nights. I got to play one of the trouble making girls drunk with her friends making the end of the Saturday night shift of the taxi driver character very challenging.


“Saturday Night in Sydney” team and Mr Broun - Shailla's Blackberry Pic

That was lots of fun to play with a fun cast and lots to explore around, but I couldn’t take Lulu’s play out of my mind, so on a little break from the first rehearsal, I went to tell Lulu how her pitch got my attention and I was looking forward to watching the performance later to find out more about the story,  and for my wonderful surprise which I had no idea, she told me that she choose me to play the role of the daughter, and was just waiting for me to finish the rehearsal on the first play that I was working on, to join her and the actress playing the role of the mother for reading and rehearsal. That was very exciting news because I didn’t know that we actors were going to work in more than one play, and even more exciting that I was actually going to work with Lulu on “Matriarch Sin”, my favourite play of all!


After I finished working with Sam Dandy and the cast of “Saturday Night in Sydney”, I didn’t even want a break, I was too excited and wanted to keep working so I joined Lulu and Coleen (the actress playing the mother role) immediately to start reading and working on “Matriarch Sin”. Lulu already had a big eventful
Saturday night planned with the family, which left her with fewer time to write a full 10 minutes script to be presented on Sunday morning, but she knew the story so well, that even though it was a very short script, it was so clear and punchy that it was a complete joy to work in it, and very easy to connect with the characters and story and understand each moment of it.



Rajpal Shaila Aileen & Lulu - Shailla's Blackberry Pic

When the time working on “Matriarch Sin” came to an end, there were more surprises: more roles on more plays to read and rehearse for the stage presentations schedule for later on the day.

I got to work with news editor Neena Badhwar on her play “Political Recrimination” alongside one of the largest casts from all plays in a satire about many of the big names current politicians living in the future in a retirement home in a complete changed country. Wonderful imagination by Neena infused with lots of big strong real life characters.

After working on “Political Recrimination” I had one more surprise: one more exciting character in one more fun play to work! Also got cast on “Call me Ismail Tonight” by Rajpal Sandhu, a lovely unconventional romantic comedy full of crazy surprises and turns, in which two friends on their way to heal their broken hearts get interrupted by a very obnoxious salesman!

After a continuous day of readings and rehearsals, in the end of the day all plays got presented as a performed moved reading to the full house audience, which was a scary and exciting experience at the same time!


After all the presentations, Alex Broun gave his feedback to the writers, and they a small ceremony to receive their elegantly framed presented attendance certificates.


I truly enjoyed every moment of this day and I got a lot out of it, first of all because I made wonderful new friends and I got to spent time with lovely old friends. Secondly, it was a joy to work in such a collaborative environment with a strong sense of community, with no egos, but just lots of passion for the craft and just people helping each other to grow and accomplish their work, and it was beautiful to see so many beautiful stories coming to life in such a short period of time.

It was also proven once again that we humans have such an incredible power to make magic happen when we are put under the pressure of deadlines. So many of the new writers had all these stories in their minds, and have been dreaming and wanting to write for a long time, but never had that extra push to make them do it and turn the dream of becoming a writer a reality, but thankfully they had the motivation to explore their dreams further and learn how to do it right, and they choose the right coach that showed them how to do it, and gave them a deadline to get it done, and they did it, just like that, years-months-weeks of stories spinning in their heads were put into paper and brought into life on the stage, and it was just the beginning in this new road that they opened in their lives!


Congratulations to all of you, the ones mentioned here, and the ones that I didn’t get to work with, but got to watch the performed moved readings of their plays, and it was a delight to watch the work of upcoming writers who mostly work full time in demanding jobs, and many also have families to take care of, and to also watch the work of very young writers as 11 and 14 years old writers who presented beautiful complex stories about families and love.


Thank you for Aishveryaa Nidhi for inviting me to spending a rewarding day in the amazing world of writers, which is where it all begins.

For more about the Abhinay School of Performing Arts here is their website: http://www.abhinay.com.au/

By Shailla