CHENNAI: It’s a wedding scene. The bar is open, guests have arrived, and the bride is in a beautiful, white, backless dress. The groom, who has a history with most women at the wedding, appears his best too — we hear, from five bridesmaids stuck in a bedroom, who try to escape the wedding madness. They soon realise they all hate the bride, and through a two-hour play, their personalities are built on this resentment. Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, inspired by Allan Ball’s script, was hosted by Crea Shakti, and the drama club of IIT Madras at Chettinad Hari Vidyalayam recently. Directed by Ganesh Dileep, a student at IIT Madras, the play featured Meredith, rebellious sister of the bride; Frances, a religious cousin; Mindy, a lesbian; Georgeanne, an exhigh school side-kick; Trisha, the woman everyone falls for; and Tripp, an usher.
All five women move in different circles. They have their reasons to agree and disagree with each other. Ganesh explained that he did not want them to have conversations for the sake of it. “I wanted to look at how all five women seem different, but are connected by their experience of being a woman in a Christian community,” he said. The five women and Tripp are heavily defined by their stereotypes. For instance, Frances quotes the Bible every time she hears something ‘immoral’, and Mindy keeps asserting her disinterest in men. The play also had moments where these identities were not the beginning and end of their characters. Shrigyan Brahmachari, who played Tripp, said, “This is my first play, and for me the learning was how to build a character.
Tripp is popular with women, but is extremely nice too, unlike the groom, Tommy Valentine. My challenge was to pull of this contradiction.” The other characters were students from IIT too. The collaboration was a part of Crea Shakti’s project to build a theatre culture in colleges. Ganesh learnt a lot about production and crafting a play. “But most importantly, my challenge was to be entertaining and meaningful at the same time. I wanted to tailor the characters retaining their strengths and weaknesses, so the history of each of their lives comes alive from simple conversations.”