So brave people in the Black Country have been allowing us into their homes to stage a play in their kitchen. Read on to find out how feels to be on the receiving end of a theatrical invasion, as one of our guinea pigs spills the beans….
Hosting Behna in my home was an extra-ordinary experience.
The company arrived and I was the host, welcoming them and making tea, worrying that I had little to offer in the way of food or drinks. Very quickly though these unusual ‘guests’ were scrutinising my kitchen, working out how my cooker worked and what was in my fridge that could be used during the drama!
I went up to the office in my house and tried to get out of the way of their get-in and rehearsals and get on with my work.
As the afternoon wore on I crept down to see what they were up to and found that a kitchen cabinet had been installed and a picture of a son I didn’t know I had was now hanging proudly on the wall!. My bedroom (taken over as the actors dressing room ) had a neat row of unfamiliar shoes lined up on the floor and a hanging rail of shalwar kameez.
The time approached for the arrival of my guests. I went into that hostess mode again‚ tidy the hallway, hide some clutter, warm the samosas. The oven had a fictitious meal in it; the fridge had a baby’s bottle in it, the things on the hall table that I’d tried to tidy were props set there by the cast, the baby was in the cupboard under the stairs – on purpose.
Guests arrived and were sent into the living room, then the cast joined us and instantly behaved as if they were the hosts and I was a guest and what was more, they were handing out the sweetmeats and celebrating a wedding! If you want to get a party going – this beats someone bursting out of a cake!
We went through to the kitchen – now a tiny auditorium for 20 people, 5 rows of seats created from an array of kitchen chairs, garden furniture and a piano stool.
This drama gripped us from beginning to end. My kitchen became someone else’s kitchen. But I never quite lost the feeling that everything that was happening was my responsibility – both in the drama and ‘backstage’ was tempted to warm the bottle for the crying baby in Act 3. But I was equally worried about the actor who was waiting in my freezing cold garden to make his entrance!
The guests who had become an audience became party guests again and mingled with the cast and director. The company put my kitchen back together and my home is mine again but not quite as I knew it echoing with the voices of an extraordinary tale and event.
Behna is made by a hugely skilled team of theatre makers. I am really happy and proud to have hosted it.
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