Just like its name, Shunya, the dramatics society of Ramjas College in Delhi University’s (DU) North Campus, is about nothing. Well, that’s how the members describe it. This group doesn’t believe in any rule or philosophy. Dramatics to them is about few like-minded people exploring the stage. Formed in 1994, the society has 33 members, out of which 14 are girls. “Girls in our college are too shy to do theatre,” says Siddharth Upasani, a member. The ratio of girls to boys was so bad last year that the team had to select plays that had more male characters. “We ended up doing a play on homosexuals,” says Ishaan Misra, the society’s secretary.
Those proficient in theatre, can be a member by qualifying the Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) quota while taking admission in the college. For others, there are auditions, which test their voice modulation and expressions among other qualities. “Stage presence is the main thing that we look for,” says Uplaksh Kochchar, a member.
The members don’t believe in hierarchy and work as a team. However, the first year students are not allowed to direct plays. DU’s unsaid norms for theatre like no smoking on stage, not using cuss words or limiting intimate scenes are something the group does not agree with. “It limits the scope of the script. There have been times when the judges have stopped the play half way because they thought it was inappropriate for the audience,” says Tanushri Upadhyay, a member.
The team has won many competitions and is one of the most talked about drama societies of the varsity. The group recently performed their Hindi play, Peele Scooter Wala Admi by Manav Kaul at the Old World Theatre Festival. Their street play titled Soch Badlo, based on bringing about a change in the stereotypical thinking of the society, got selected by the Asmita Theatre Group.
So how does this society finance its productions? They say, the college pays them a fixed amount annually, which is usually insufficient. “Expenditure on things like lights, generator and costume is a lot more than the budget given by the college. So we just keep saving our prize money and put it to use,” says Misra.