“We are the players and the world’s a stage…”
Said Shakespeare and made theatre all the rage,
But that is ancient; we bring you the present,
A bunch of MAD KIDS, with oodles of talent.
Their teachers, looking at their passion and zest,
Decided to enter them for a theatre fest.
The kids at last with a chance to display,
Their histrionics couldn’t help shouting “Hurray!!!!”
They shouted aloud, “Now the world shall see,
Our performance at Histrionica, SRCC”!!!
(Want to know more??? Stay with me….)
Kenneth Tynan once said, “No theatre could sanely flourish until there was an umbilical connection between what was happening on the stage and what was happening in the world”.
Such was the theme of our play “THODA SA SAMAY” that echoed the essence of our MAD WORLD. It accentuated on one hand the appalling and abject state of a group of kids who, with aid of the state, receive basic education, but hardly reach anywhere in life because ‘the language that rules the world’ is alien to them.
On the other hand, it talked of a group of firebrand, conscience stricken and remorseful college youngsters, willing to bring that fresh breath of change but who are handicapped by lack of money and resources. Both the groups lament for a world where they can bridge the divide.
Where is that world??? IT’S A MAD WORLD. ALL YOU HAVE TO HAVE IS “THODA SA SAMAY”…
The play was to be followed with a tour for the kids around the college, so that they would know what opportunities lay ahead of them after school.
The D-DAY arrived and we reached the venue late due to traffic!! We had barely entered when we were informed that we had our performance in 2 minutes!
“2 minutes??? You’ve got to be kidding me! Weren’t the kids supposed to take a tour of the college first?” “Yes, they were. But you’re late”.
It turned out that they were mighty serious. Now the only situation that I can think of where 2 minutes would just be perfectly enough is while cooking Maggie Noodles…. but here??
Thus began the 2 most nauseating minutes of my life. I was overwrought with panic and almost threw up in my mouth as my head swarmed with a million thoughts at the same time. We’ve had no rehearsals today! Where is that one run-through I was promised? Final touch up for the kids is left! Oh wait! Two kids have gone to the washroom! They definitely couldn’t have had a better timing! Where is that washroom any way??? Don’t they have a heart! I mean we just entered, right?? I had to give them some encouraging words like “You guys will rock! You can do it! Remember this…please don’t forget that…”
And so, 2 minutes over! Out of all the things mentioned above, I could accomplish only 2 in those ‘2 minutes’: The final touch up for the kids and the pep talk. (By the way, the washroom kids joined us back in time!)
And we walked towards the ‘stage’ and were welcomed by a roaring applause. Okay! Alright! All humanity is still not lost, I told myself, as I waited with bated breath for things to roll in. Honestly speaking, we never had had a perfect rehearsal, but what unfolded there in those 15 minutes was magic!
And how do I know that?? Because, the preamble applause was followed by ‘Oooohs’ n ‘Aaaahs’ n ‘Aaawwwwws’ on every dialogue! Each step further dissolved all my fears one by one. The kids performed with zest and passion and the crowd stirred in animated response.
One kid gave out the most breathtakingly alive rendition of the typical Indian politician and he had the crowd in splits. They cheered him on so loudly that at one moment I wanted to stand and tell them, “Guys, can you please clap a little softly, you’re missing the punch in his lines!” All in all, the boys confirmed their reputation of being highly dramatic.
After we were done, one of my co- volunteers came up to me, didn’t say anything and just gave me a tight hug, whispering, that the kids had been louder than I was! (Did I forget to mention that I had a minor role?). Anyhow, that statement would have probably devastated me in any other circumstance involving other people, but I couldn’t help breaking into a wide smile! :D It was their day. The applause you receive doesn’t just mean that people loved you, it goes on to say that the audiences were able to recognize themselves in you. My kids rocked!!!!
One maddening time … many odd hours put to build it … comprising of a million unforgettable moments that have been sealed forever in the chronicles of everyone’s life who was part of this! Like the time when in a gush of a moment a kid delivered a dialogue totally altering its essence and we couldn’t do that scene again for sometime without all of us simultaneously bursting into peals of laughter!
Or when one kid couldn’t handle the pressure of his role and we all helped him together. And the other who taught us to face the challenge of eviction in auditions with a smile and win the role too. It’s a chapter of the book of my life, I’ll very often flip back to.
Hence the story draws to an end, but wait, how can it, without making a mention of a very important person! Atul Koushik, the theatre person who, along with his group, FTS (Film and Theatre Society), wrote the most outstanding script for us! MAD shall forever be grateful to you. Half the battle was won when you walked in!
As we were walking out of the college, one kid asked me:
“Ma’am..when will the result be out??”
Oh dear! Did I forget to tell them that we had a guest performance?
“Actually, we weren’t competing.”
“Ok, but next time, we will compete Ma’am.”
I smiled back and told myself, Yes…we will!
By Purva Narain