All the World’s a Stage: A Peek into IITM’s Drama Club

All the world’s a stage

and all the men and women merely players:

they have their exits and their entrances,

and one man in his time plays many parts,

his acts being seven ages.

There is hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of these famous lines from William Shakespeare’s play, ‘As You Like It’. But no one relates to these lines more than those in the theatre sphere. We decided to sit down with one of the conveners of the Drama Club – Sagarika Nath and try to find out a little something about the theatre scene in IIT Madras and what our very own players are up to.

The Drama Club started off the year with an Initiator Event for the fresh talent on campus to experience the drama scene. The coordinators of the Drama Club came together to put up a fun play and this was followed by a small workshop which saw good participation. The next event was the Playoffs, which is a series of four plays that are performed on a single day. This gave many freshies and beginners a chance to go on stage and experience the thespian culture first hand. Soon after this, preparations for the highly competitive inter-IIT started. IITM took part in the Stage Play and the Street Play this year.

A scene from the play performed at the Initiator Event

The few of you who manage to keep track of the tons of smail that we get every day might have noticed a few mails this year from the Drama Club which called for original scripts. This is the Drama Club’s new initiative to try and get people to write competitive plays.  Sagarika says “Before this, we never really did original scripts much and this was something I resented when I was a coordinator in the Club last year. When we perform original scripts, the audience is able to relate much more to what is being shown on stage.” She also quickly adds that being able to write the script for a play requires a lot of experience and time and that there is a certain amount of risk involved.

“Other colleges have been putting up plays based on original scripts for quite some time now and we haven’t. This is one of the reasons we have not been able to perform as well.” The result of the recently concluded inter-IIT is a testament to this.

Both the Street Play and the Stage Play were based on original scripts and this year IIT Madras’ Stage Play won 2nd place. They also received a lot of positive feedback for their play.

“Given that this was our first serious attempt at inter-IIT, I feel this was a pretty good performance,” she says.

On being asked about seeing fresh faces in the plays, Sagarika says “We always encourage and look forward to having new entrants. To promote this, since last year we’ve been conducting multiple vernacular events. This year, interestingly, we also saw international participation. To be honest, we weren’t expecting it. We just sent out mails to the international students as well and many of them turned up for the Playoffs.” She says that this time there has been a lot of diversity in the people who have performed in the plays as well as the audience that has come to watch them.

About the effort that goes behind making a play happen, Sagarika says that the time put into each play depends a lot on the length of the play itself and the seriousness of the occasion for which it is being performed.

“For big productions, the practice goes on for at least a couple of months. For LitSoc, on average teams work for nearly a week before the event. There was in fact one team one year that had practised for just 6 hours straight the previous night and ended up placing second!”

What a dramatic victory that must have been!

There is also a lot to look forward to in the coming semester. There is the very fiercely fought inter-hostel competition, LitSoc Dramatics and the Drama Club’s flagship event Stagecoach. Stagecoach is a full-fledged production lasting almost 2 hours. Directing a Stagecoach play is an honour many yearn for. Apart from these two, the club also plans to conduct small club sessions where the drama-enthu people on campus can have some fun time together.

Sagarika says that Stagecoach this year will be something new and novel.

“This year we have multiple applicants who are writing their own script for Stagecoach, which I think is great. Also, we are trying to be more independent in the production. Usually, we have the lighting and stage design done by contractors because it is kind of complicated. But we want to try and do it independently. This will save us some cost too. We are trying to have workshops for directors to make them more self-sufficient. So you can expect a very original Stagecoach this year.”

A scene from last year’s Stagecoach

About the activities and preparation of the Drama Club for Saarang which is just around the corner, Sagarika says that the events planned for Saarang this year are very similar to those of the previous year, except for a couple of events. She, however, added that a lot of importance has been given to vernacular talent. “Slam Poetry, which was exclusively in English up until last year is going to be open to Hindi and Tamil as well this year. We are also opening Dramatics to Tamil. We have also tried to expand the solo events to other languages.”

Also, in case you couldn’t make it to Bombay to see what IITM’s talented and hardworking actors put up for inter-IIT, fret not, they will be performing the same play once again during Saarang. You can catch them there!

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