Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Phoenix and the Dramaturgy: Pragati Bhatia @ Edfringe 2017

VENUE (18)

Before the sands of time
In lands undefined
Did dwell two friends,
two states of mind - 
the Dancer and the Poet.

The Phoenix and the Crow is a mystical tale set in a fictional land of wealthy merchants, warriors and dark dancers. While her friend the poet spectates from the shadows, the dancer’s pursuit of adulation leads her to an empty victory. 

A chance encounter with a courtesan and a warrior challenge her to shed layers of her identity and find her authentic expression.

She discovers that the limelight pales in comparison to her inner light."

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Originally this piece was inspired by the need to create meaningful work for myself as an actor. Shayna’s journey was loosely based on my own experiences. But soon enough this story had nothing to do with my own experiences or aspirations and had a life of its own.

Now, I see, it is really about anyone who is chasing their dreams, in pursuit of their personal goals and overcoming obstacles, albeit self-imposed, to be true to their heart’s calling.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely. The purpose of the performance is to raise questions about our choices, the limitations we place on ourselves in our quest to be the best versions of ourselves.  

To discuss or question racial and gender prejudices in addition to societal pressures to conform and be accepted.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Storytelling has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. Though my experience is mainly on stage or on screen as an actor, I am finding directing and producing extremely fulfilling - I am always keen to learn and the best way to learn is by doing. So here I am.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

This is a devised piece of movement and dialogue.  As my play is still a working draft, my objective for the production is to test the themes and character arcs in front of a live audience and get further insights into the characters themselves.  

As such, my approach is slightly unconventional, we will nto be working with a finalized script. Purely with a story outline and improvising as we go. Once again, its a raw piece that I am so thrilled to bring to life with my incredibly talented and passionate team.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is my very first theatrical production. I usually produce 'mockumentary' video clips or large scale dance performances.

So I would say it is something very different to anything me or my team have worked on - it's very exciting!
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I want the audience to be taken to a world of possibilities, beyond our imagination and limitations. I would like them to be part of the setting so they, too, can experience what the artists are experiencing emotionally.  

I hope the story inspires them and leaves them with mixed emotions about the characters and their choices.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

The only strategy is to follow my instincts. Switch my head off, so not get caught up in thoughts and self-
judgments, be open to ideas and do what feels right to me and the cast and crew. If it feels right to us, then it will feel right for the audience.
A beautifully portrayed piece of dance theatre from first time Australian writer Pragati Bhatia (

The Phoenix and the Crow is at the very beginning of its worldwide journey. With Broadway its spiritual home, the production is beginning its life in front of audiences at the 70th anniversary Fringe this August.

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