Silence! The Court is in Session, a critically acclaimed play by Vijay Tendulkar was recently staged by The Studio, the dramatics club of SASTRA University, Thanjavur, at the Music Academy here. It is their third ticketed show and the excitement is palpable. “The play deals with talking points like premarital sex, and social issues like infanticide and male chauvinism prevalent in the society,” says Lakshmi Narayanan, a final-year engineering student of SASTRA and one of the members of The Studio.
The Studio usually performs comedies or plays on socially relevant subjects. Their plays are of the abstract genre and they are mostly into experimental theatre.
Initially keen on original English scripts, the team later realised that there were stories in languages other than English that needed to be told and started performing adaptations. “We came across short stories of very good authors in Tamil and Hindi. For instance, Maruthal is a brilliant story by Tamil writer Sujatha. We would love to perform it someday,” says Lakshmi Narayanan.
Anuraag Vikram Kate, another member of The Studio says they were inspired by playwrights like Mahesh Dattani and would consider themselves lucky if they could stage one of his plays. “We had playwright Hans Padmanabhan Kaushik from Creashakthi (a Chennai-based theatre group) who taught us script writing, staging techniques and things like how to construct a plot,” he says.
The Studio, which currently comprises a majority of final-year engineering students Ameya Jalihal, Amogh Jalihal, Anand Murali, Haritha Naveen, Juhi Baskar, Navroj Ravi, Santosh Venkatraman, Smrithi Sundar and Tejas Kinger was formed in 2008 by Shreekanth Dass, an alumnus, with the idea of driving home issues of social pertinence. They have touched upon subjects like rape, orthodoxy, the 2014 General Elections and coping with death, among others.
They have made their mark in the campus theatre scene for having staged the Best Play — The Writer at Riviera, Vellore Institute of Technology’s cultural festival; Best Play — Ami at Saarang, Indian Institute Technology of Madras in 2012; Best Play — Illusions at Festember, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchy in 2012; Best Play — God of Carnage at Saarang, IIT-Madras in 2012; Best Play — Silence! The court is in session at Admit One, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2013; Best Play — My Catastrophe — at Saarang, IIT-M in 2014; Best Play and Best Director — India Gate at Dramalog-III, organised by Creashakthi, with Director Abhinav Srinivasan, and Best Play — 15 minutes at Christian Medical College, Vellore, in 2014.
The show must go on! No one understands this better than those involved in theatre. Students in their final-year at SASTRA take a backseat in acting to give their juniors a chance to take over and make sure The Studio continues its successful run long after they are gone.