What? We’re finished? Where did these two weeks go?
Today we realised what was cooking. All this time we’ve been picking and playing with the raw ingredients Phillip, Sudha and the other speakers been giving us, making up our own little dishes, garnishing them with love and care – today we stepped back and saw that we had a whole buffet.
Excuse the food metaphors… It’s all Phillip’s fault. This morning we went round in a circle and talked about what kind of food we felt like. Someone felt spread thin like a pancake. Another was boiling away like a hearty soup. Someone said they might crack and spill out like a soft-boiled egg. And another was clear and uncomplicated like a neat piece of sushi. Besides reminding me that I was hungry, I was also reminded that I was going to miss this bunch of people after tomorrow.
After lunch, we did a test run for tomorrow’s showcase. We started with my silly random word exercise and went on to the scenes that emerged from the memory exercises – Uma’s tender scene about two girls from different worlds coping with death, moved us all – as did Susan’s heart-warming “Maggie and Ed” story that we have rooted for right from the start. And of course Najma’s brilliant little scene about a lovable, colourful, multi-coloured family was a treat as always! It is amazing how all of us are so different in style and approach… yet, so many bits and pieces of our personal stories are the same.
We moved on to scenes that emerged from the photograph exercise – My mad family farce was followed by Sharmila’s beautiful poetry in motion set in Africa, We then saw the results of the verbatim exercise with Tuyen’s monologue, after which there were very few dry eyes in the audience. Then came her touching scene that was inspired by her “brioche belly” interview with Sharmila. We heard from Radha’s skinny-girl Tracey and Moni’s “cutting edge” doctor – both written with such charm, insight and humour. Narinder’s lovely innocent Sharda from the corner shop flirted her way through our hearts and then came Susan’s moving Lorca transposition. Rosa’s clever, young, cheeky Londoners piece will end tomorrow’s writing showcase with beer, cheer and a good dose of criminality.
After tomorrow these characters that we have lived with and fallen in love with will leave the place they were born and go on their individual journeys. We have come full circle and tomorrow the buffet will be open for the world to see.
Ayeesha Menon – writer