“Wuthering Heights” Rehearsals – Week 2

Monday morning at work is never an exciting prospect for anyone. But step through the door of the rehearsal room for Wuthering Heights and the first thing to strike you is how lively the place is: the cast are dancing to Bollywood soundtracks as they warm up for rehearsals wearing colourful dupattas and saris. Even the director and stage managers join in. Suddenly work doesn’t seem so bad.

With so much energy in the room, it’s not surprising that the company have already made leaps and bounds on the play. It’s no mean feat: there’s singing, dancing, different langauges and a set consisting of a palace and camel market; but director Kristine Landon-Smith tells me how everyone has risen to the occasion:

“The big challenge is becoming more and more obvious and that is how to believe we are in the deserts of Rajasthan and yet play in a musical. So I am having to very careful about the balance between the real texture we are trying to achieve in the scenes, and the more heightened moments of song and dance – it really is walking a tightrope. It’s a very subtle and delicate balance and quite elusive at times; however, the actors are terrific and are really stepping up to the challenge.

I use anything and everything to help me in my work with the actors. I use improvisations a lot. For example, when we were playing the death scene, I asked the three actors involved to imagine they were in a Hindi film (a good one!) and each actor was speaking their particular Indian language (in this instance Gujerati, Punjabi and Tamil). I played a bit of romantic music into this improvisation and suddenly we had exactly the right texture for the scene – our next job is to translate it all back to English – but now that we can see what is needed the job is easier.

It’s a fascinating challenge – sketching and rubbing out and sketching again – this is how I describe it. Three more days and we are at the end of week two!”

Kristine and the actors at work:

We also managed to grab our two leads, Pushpinder Chani (Krishan) and Youkti Patel (Shakuntala) for a quick interview. Pushpinder tells us about his love of the original Bronte novel and reveals that lip synching is harder than it looks:

What attracted you to the role of Krishan?

Did you research the original novel?

What’s the biggest challenge been so far?

Meanwhile, Youkti tells us how she’d love to be a Bollywood star and reveals her favourite Bollywood film:

What attracted you to the role of Shakuntala?

Are you a fan of Bollywood?

What’s your favourite Bollywood film?

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