Today, my heart is exploding with immense love, gratitude, happiness, and pure bliss. I am walking with my head held up high and reminding myself of what we have achieved. My eyes have been moist for 2 days now and I can’t stop reminiscing every stage of this journey. Every failure, the fear of uncertainty, all those mistakes and the learning that came with it, starting from the scratch, getting to know tiny nuances, practicing, practicing even more, learning as we progressed, getting a lot better and then finally succeeding. Probably this is what it feels like when your dreams come true.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to do my own production – lights, cameras, actors, dancers, costumes, props, and audiences cheering us on. Oh! those cheers! Those loud, never fading cheers rang in my ears like they were real. No matter where I ended up in life, I’ve always wanted to be a performer.
9 months ago, I put together a team of equally enthusiastic people. People who shared the same passion as me, but even more talented. A team, that we referred to as “Prod Core”, a team that would end up spending every minute of the next 9 months working on this project, a team that would discover their own flair for craft in the next 9 months, a team that would overcome every hurdle and completely crush it, a team that when stands together is capable of taking down the city with a storm, a team that’s so close-knit that we call it “family”. Abhishek, Anusha, Ashish, Jaspreet, Jyoti, Mounica, Nikita, Nitin, Pooja, Satish, Shibani, Sumit, Tanya, Tejal, and Yogesh (in alphabetic order 😉). That day (27th September 2017) everyone parked their lives aside to make this dream a reality. My dream became OUR dream.
The good old Royal Drummer days
As we moved forward, we quickly realized that there’s so much more to be discovered. None of us knew what we were getting into. The more we explored, the more we grasped that this wasn’t going to be easy. Right from booking the venue, to conducting auditions, to looking for a non-profit partner, to writing a script, to overall project management – all this with our regular 9-5 jobs were some of the initial challenges we faced. All 16 of us spent every evening of the initial months at my house working till midnight and then we would retire for the day, only to start again next day. But as time passed, we kept adding more members to our family. Team Redmond Indian Cultural Association (RICA) was one of the first additions who selflessly agreed to partner with us in our expedition. They understood what we were trying to create, and they became a part of our day to day struggles.
To sow the seed of good karma, we also partnered up with Sukarya, and decided to put on the show as a benefit performance for their mission to help women and children in the slums of India. Now, the pressure was on and we had nothing. No prior experience, no money, no venue, no resources. We were in this all by ourselves. “We” were all we had.
We started spreading the word, conducted auditions lead by Pooja and slowly we saw our family grow from 16 people to 55 people. As the family grew, there was a risk of losing sight of our core values – karma, building a family, creating a happy place, spreading joy. A lot of people had told me that with a group as big as this, it’s not possible to be a family. I’d like to challenge those people and ask them to come, look at what we’ve created. It’s an unbreakable bond between 55 people who look out for each other, laugh together, cry together, and stand by each other. Family isn’t always blood. It’s people in your life who want you in theirs. It’s people who’d love you no matter what. This is my family!
After our first successful audition
Throughout this journey, we’ve faced many such situations where we felt discouraged, lost and honestly, we didn’t know if we could do this. Like, we lost our venue in the middle of our journey, and our potential sponsors were turning us down. So basically, until February, we had no money and no venue, but we had 55 hopeful eyes and a strong will.
No one can make our dreams come true for us… it is our job to get up every day and work towards it… We came up with a plan and set goals that will help us achieve that plan. And then we got to work. Not just for a day or a week or a month. But for as long as it took to accomplish our dream. We treated making our dreams come true as our actual jobs – we showed up on time, put in a full effort, learned from our mistakes, reviewed our performance, pivot when necessary, tracked our progress each day, then got some rest to wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to get back to work. It took a toll on a lot of us, but we were there to cover up for each other. We held each other through thick and thin.
The entire team stepped up and together we created magic! Jyoti, Sumit, Anusha, Tejal, Pooja and Jaspreet focused all their energy into finding us a venue on such a short notice. The branding team created world class marketing material for the show. From video snapshots, to posters, to logo, everything was beyond exceptional. Nitin, Shibani, Jyoti, Sumit and Urvashi are loaded with talent. Along with Apurva, Poorva, Mounica, Harsh and Amol, the branding team nailed it. Because the branding team was making such good progress in creating a buzz on social media, the sponsorship team started advancing at their end. Mounica, Pooja, Tejal, Jineta, Anusha, Yogesh, Gaurav, Poorva and Harsh came up with some brilliant sponsorship ideas and together we reached out to potential sponsors. Initially, the thought of asking people to invest their money in a new group, made me uncomfortable. But the kind of talent this team was showing me, I could walk down the street and convince random folks to invest in us. Suddenly, everything was falling in place. Now we had enough money to invest in costumes and props. Sakina, Urvashi, Mumal, Jineta, Apurva, Tanya, Abhishek, Sumit, and Casey created some props that left the audiences spell bound. It certainly didn’t feel like this was our first production. The level of props made us look professionals. The actors (Abhishek, Tejal, Poorva, Annwesha, and Siddhart) were practicing all day, everyday. The dancers didn’t take a single day off either. If you’ve seen us perform anywhere, you’d know that my dance routines tend to get very high energetic. Spending that kind of energy every day is no joke. But the commitment entire team showed is commendable. We walked around with tired bodies and sleep deprived minds for nearly 3-4 months.
The script written by Abhishek, Yogesh, Shibani, Nikita and Jaspreet was relatable and deeply touching. To do justice to this script, Satish and Abhishek, along with Shibani, Nikita, Yogesh and Ashish directed every scene with so much attention to detail. Every scene was mesmerizing, and every shot was breathtaking.
Until you step your foot into it, you never realize how much work it takes. Such was the case with sound and lighting. I have seen Jyoti, Ashish, Aalisha, and Gaurav exchange messages at 2am while working on music. Ashutosh spent hours to make sure the lights did justice to some beautiful projections Shibani, Sumit, Nidhi, Urvashi, Pavan, Nitin, Jineta, Ankita and Nilanjan put together.
Miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.
Managing 55 people was one of our biggest challenge at this point and that’s where Abhijeet, Tanya, Anusha and Tejal stepped up. Creating schedules and accommodating everyone’s requests. I’m not even sure how they ever got any sleep. Somewhere down the line, we brought Abhijeet into our team. He was that one missing piece from our puzzle, and we saw everything fall in place thereafter.
A big shout out to Pooja and Paresh for helping us with stage management. And another big applause to Shibani, Sumit and Anup for documenting this entire journey through their gorgeous pictures.
I am sure I am missing a lot of people here who’ve helped me fulfill my dream. A big thanks to every person who put their life and soul into creating what we did.
I am also extremely thankful to my husband for being so supportive throughout this journey. For playing the role of a single parent for days when I didn’t get home in time. I could do all that I did, only because I knew you were there. And lastly, my very supportive parents who have always taught me to chase my dreams rather than regret later. It’s because of this support system that I can afford to take risks in my life.
It took a huge portion of my life to believe that I was capable of putting so much effort to make my dreams come true. But now, I am ready to take on the world. One step at a time. One theatre at a time!