German in letter, universal in spirit

German in letter, universal in spirit

The Collegiate Theatre Festival showcases plays that strike a chord with the young audience.

Campus theatre groups are constantly pushing the envelope. While they value the classics, they are also open to experimenting with new scripts by playwrights from across the world. Recently, two well-known theatre groups of Delhi University – ‘Shunya’ of Ramjas and ‘Players’ of Kirori Mal College – staged two new plays by German writers at the Collegiate Theatre Festival, Max Mueller Bhavan. Attended by students and theatre lovers from far and wide, the plays won much applause and appreciation.

   The Collegiate Theatre Festival is an initiative of the Goethe-Institut to promote new German writing among vibrant campus theatre groups in Delhi. During the Indo-German Urban Mela last year, four colleges – Lady Sri Ram, Venkateswara, Ramjas and Kirori Mal – were commissioned to present a play each, authored by contemporary German writers. Ramjas and Kirori Mal College (KMC) staged their productions at the Max Mueller Bhavan,
recently.

Teenage suicide

‘Norway Today’ by Igor Bauersima is about a girl and a boy — strangers — who meet in an online chatroom while discussing suicide. They decide to “try suicide” together, making a pact not to back out. They reach a mountain top in Norway. Then ensues a night of doubts and dilemmas, discussions and debates. They eventually fall in love and give suicide a miss.

The actors from Ramjas effortlessly turned a two-character play into one that incorporated no less than six actors. In a technique called ‘relay method,’ a girl and a boy each took over the plot narration from the previous pair every 10 minutes or so. In the meantime, the other two pairs sat on stage, whistling like the wind on a mountain top, providing an innovative background score.

One of the actors, Dhruv Sirohi, said: “We were given a choice of 10 scripts, but we chose ‘Norway Today’ as it best depicts the problems faced by the youth. We have hundreds of friends in college and on Facebook but still there is a sense of loneliness and alienation. The play examines such a phenomenon in a sensitive manner.”

Secrets and solace

‘Threesome without Simone’, staged by KMC, dealt with the issue of sexual harassment. Simone is assaulted on a school trip. Three boys – her current boyfriend, a former flame and a nerdy admirer –  are summoned by the principal. While waiting outside the principal’s office, the three boys question each other and reveal secrets best
kept hidden.

Student-director Nina Sud said, “Threesome took us back to our own school days. It made us recall and recapture the way we spoke and behaved, especially with classmates of the opposite sex. The boys (in the play) are going through emotional turmoil and that had to come through honestly.”

To her what struck a chord was the universality of the theme. “I guess that’s what we liked best about the play and the festival. The plays have been written by Germans, but they apply to any society.

They are about human expressions. They are German but universal.”

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