A three-way marriage

Behna‚ our intimate kitchen sink drama was a huge success over 4-weeks in March! Performances were held in a private rented house in Selly Oak during the weekdays and private homes across the Black Country on weekends. The final performance from a private home was webcast on the internet as an experiment.

Over 400 people saw it in Selly Oak, just over 100 in private homes, 133 computers logged on to the webcast some having Behna parties – watching in groups taking it to just under 300. Behna reached an approximate audience of 800.

Afterwards, Sonia Likhari, the writer said that she’d been, living moments‚ from the last few weeks:

It’s been an absolute pleasure being amongst and working with all the team. I am honoured and happy to have my play presented and represented by such a supportive, inventive and passionate group of people.

To have my story and characters brought to life in such a real and affecting way is what every writer dreams of.

Raidene Carter – Associate Producer at The REP said:

Behna has been a fantastic success and we’re obviously proud of what’s been achieved between the partners and by the creative company. Given our not too distant foray into the REP/Library of Birmingham merger, where our work will be made off-site until 2013, it’s been a genuinely useful, reassuring and exciting production to be part of.

As a site ‚specific theatrical piece, Behna has further developed the skills of a relatively new writer, shown how co-productions can work in very practical ways (not just financial) and proved that audience development can happen without tokenism.

Nadine Kubalek, Projects Manager at Trilby Multimedia says:

As a multimedia production company, Trilby saw the Behna experiment as an exciting opportunity to get involved with a different style of performance. In preparation for the event we worked with the BCT website designer to create a set of pages for the broadcast including developing a customised chat area to be used before, during and after the show.

A live broadcast has its own requirements on staff and equipment, especially as we could only attend one rehearsal and had a few hours on site before the broadcast to get set-up and ready to go.

On the night of the event, being in a restricted space with minimal resources meant we had to sacrifice on a few things. Cutting the number of cameras, hiding microphones in the space and capacity of the home broadband connection all brought challenges. Feedback on the event has been generally positive and some lessons learned mean next time will be even better.

We are now in the process of training BCT staff to bring some of the skills in-house for future productions so watch this space!

Janet Steel‚ of Kali Theatre and the director of Behna said:

Kitchen Behna, as we fondly call it at Kali, was an absolute joy to work on. It was a production full of jack in the box surprises, that never ceased to enliven the emotions and senses.

From the very inception of the project the co-producers were open to try something different, only imagining what the final outcome would be. Trust was the operative word as we leaped into the creative process and an empty house in Selly Oak.

The actors never ceased to amaze me in their skill, not only in performance but in working with audiences before and after the show, generating an atmosphere that made the play a truly shared experience.

Every performance was different because every audience was different. It was everything that I believe theatre should be, full of surprises. Can’t wait to do it again!

A few audience quotes:

Selly Oak house: I got so engrossed in the story, it was like watching a soap opera unfold in front of you. I arrived there feeling tired and weary and left feeling like I’d had a great experience.

Private home: I really enjoyed hosting this. It was really quite special!

Webcast: I thoroughly enjoyed watching this innovative drama. Had hoped that the sound and visual quality was a bit better but the concept was great and the storyline very pertinent. I hope to include it in my work on artistic expressions of women in the Midlands.

Audiences have responded very well to the play: the story, the drama, the humour, the characters, the performance and delivery. The intimate staging in real kitchens captured the essence at the heart of this kitchen sink drama.

From a BCT perspective we’re particularly proud of what Behna has achieved: co-producing a Sikh-Punjabi narrative that chimed so well with Asian and wider audiences.

After the experience of the webcast we are now left thinking what next? What is Black Country Touring’s digital future?

Read Behna Webcast Evaluation

Bobby Tiwana

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