Interview with Bollywood Jane Director, Siobhan Cannon-Brownlie

Wed 24 Jul 2019

Rehearsals are underway for Bollywood Jane, a Curve Young Company and Community Production.

We caught up with director Siobhan Cannon-Brownlie to find out more about the story, extravagant Bollywood dancing and the team behind the production.

Can you tell us a bit more about the story of Bollywood Jane?

Amanda Whittington’s Bollywood Jane is a charming story about a young woman who arrives in Leicester unsure of who she is and what her future holds, and through a fortuitous meeting with a young man named Dini discovers the beauty and magic of Bollywood. Jane and her mother Kate have had to move house frequently; Jane hasn’t had a simple childhood and is initially very unhappy to find herself in a new city all over again. What follows is the story of Jane learning to love Bollywood, Leicester and by extension becoming aware of her own power and possibility. We also follow Kate’s journey and are afforded a look into the lives of Dini who introduces Jane to Bollywood, Dini’s business-owning sister Suvi, Aamir who owns the Star of Bollywood cinema and Mac whose affair with Kate has abruptly ended. Amanda deftly weaves the narratives of the everyday lives of these characters into a landscape of escapism and fantasy and in doing so shows us how opening oneself up to dreaming can change our lives and mindsets for good.

The play is set on Leicester’s Belgrave Road, have you been inspired by The Golden Mile?

Absolutely! It’s wonderful to work on something that tells the story of characters who are inhabiting streets so close to the theatre itself. I have always admired the way that Curve can bring a local feel to productions (even those set hundreds of miles away such as the lyric change in Greased Lightening to feature ‘you’re burning down the Golden Mile’ and the Leicester City Football Club shirts featured in the curtain call of Legally Blonde) so to be able to tell a story that is inherently Leicester focused is a joy.

The designer Eleanor Fields and myself are based in Nottingham so frequently pass through The Golden Mile en route to Leicester, but we wanted to spend more time absorbing the atmosphere of this unique street, so the choreographer Kesha Raithatha took us on a recce of Belgrave Road and this tour inspired many design choices and was a crucial part of the pre-rehearsal preparations.

How has it been working with a local community company?

I truly believe that theatre is for everyone and as such, a large part of my work is focused on youth and community theatre and ensuring that people from all walks of life have the opportunity to create theatre and tell their own story. I am a big fan of Curve and how integrated into its community it is; audiences seem to feel a genuine ownership of the building.

To take this one step further and work on a production that invites the community to come and create it is amazing. This particular company are fantastic and it has honestly been a joy to work with them, see them grow in confidence and skill and to see them helping each other every step of the way. Whenever you look around the rehearsal room anyone not being used is running lines or choreography and supporting each other in making the best production possible.

This company ranges in age from 16 to people in their 60s and with some company members being born and bred in Leicester and some having just moved here it really does feel like a cross-section of the community. It’s also a joy to have members of Curve’s Young Company involved and some members of Curve regulars Sidekick Dance.

You’re working with Kesha Raithatha for choreography, how is this?

 Kesha is so talented and wonderful to work with that I was surprised we were able to secure her to choreograph Bollywood Jane in all honesty! I am thrilled that she was available because what she has brought to the process is nothing short of inspirational.

Her energy and passion light up the room and her choreography is layered, nuanced, intricate and absolutely joyful. I am so grateful to have her voice and expertise in this process and I know our community company are grateful to be working with such an esteemed local talent too.

What do you hope people feel when they see the show?

 Jane’s story is universal and we are all on a journey of self-discovery no matter what age we are, so I hope that local audiences feel that this show is for them and see themselves reflected in the story.

I hope people from or residing in Leicester feel proud to be in such a vibrant and culturally diverse city with a rich history and exciting present, and I hope they feel this is being represented on stage in front of them.

My hope is that we have created a show which speaks to a local audience but would be equally enjoyable to someone who has just moved to Leicester or who is experiencing a snapshot of the city by visiting.

Tickets for Bollywood Jane at Curve are on sale now. To book, click here, call 0116 242 3595 or visit the Box Office in person at Curve.