Saturday, January 23, 2010


(I studied at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. The most beloved memory I have of that place is the one of the dramatics society, Spandan. I wrote this article for a magazine a couple of years back.)

SPANDAN: the word means heartbeat, the constant rhythmic dribble that implies life. The dramatics society of the school of planning and architecture is no different for us. It came up “on a rainy day over a few cups of tea”, an interesting story which I’ll choose to save for another rainy day. When the birds start returning to their nests, bells start ringing in the temples, the sun begins to set, when the day begins to end, a few lost ends start looking for new beginnings.

One production for each semester is the target. Typically the odd semester is an in-house production. A professional director is called in for the even. Every production begins with a few theatrical exercises, games and a lot of enthusiasm. Everyone gets to know everyone else. Once the team is finalized, the hunt for the script begins. We start looking for dialogues for our voice. Once the script is done, the work begins. Character starts taking form. Form gets life. We start alternating between lives. The character then gets a soul and then fights for its space in our mind and body. The script becomes our new dialect. In the process we discover ourselves. After the hectic day at college, the meetings which used to be mad evenings become mad nights. The madness prevails and keeps us sane, it is not just legal here and it is a MUST. So is shouting at the top of your voice. In the process there are reality checks. The enthusiasm overcomes the language barriers. Sheer grit is what it takes to deal with the money matters and the college administration. Late night order-ins make up for the missed meals and sleeping with open eyes in lectures is the solution to the lost sleep. The academics that suffers? Ah! No cure found as yet. Costumes, makeup, lights, sounds, sets, props, brochures and posters are as integral as confusion, frenzy, anticipation, anxiety and triumph. We gain so much more than we can ever give to the noble art of theater. But at the end of the play, everything is so worth it.

The society has produced plays in a wide range of genres in the current past. Experimental, mystery, slapstick, thought provoking and just pure entertaining. We’ve done it all. We recently proudly concluded our 32nd production, “Gadhe ki Baraat”. But the heartbeat doesn’t stop. Within no time we will be ready with a new play, a new meaning, a new beginning, one another evening.

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