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Mad about histrionics

art-and-culture Updated: May 05, 2011 01:10 IST
Upama Sinha
Upama Sinha
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

They have broken their teeth, bruised their noses and knees, fallen flat on their faces, but they refuse to quit. Abhivyakti, the drama society of Indraprastha College for Women has 25 girls. They are not sure about how old their society is, but they’re absolutely certain about its motive. “Expression, enjoyment, and passion,” say the girls in unison.

Acting, to these girls, is more than hobby. They might miss classes but never their four-hour, gruesome practice session where they write and discuss scripts, decide formations, work on their voice and act. “We may bunk our classes but never our practice sessions,” says Sugam Singhal. “Our classmates wonder if we are even interested in studying,” says Sulbha Goyal.

But, study, they do. “It’s all about balancing.” With their attendance taken care of and the constant support of their teachers, the girls give their best to this group, but never compromise on their study. Their dedication towards their course can be gauged by the fact that none of them want to switch over to acting. “Acting will be a part time thing not a full time occupation,” says Harpreet Kaur.

Members of this team are selected after a rigorous process. They are tested on the basis of their creativity, voice quality, quick wit, expressions and of course, acting skills. Once chosen, the members are briefed about the society. The selection committee consists ex-members.

The society has two groups — stage theatre and street theatre. “Our main objective is to experiment with street theatre,” says a member. Every year, the group comes up with one production for each form and the planning starts before eight-nine months. “We have brainstorming sessions,” says Aroma Dabas. Sometimes, the brainstorming sessions also leads to clashes and conflicts between the girls. “But at the end, we all are working for the betterment of the society,” she adds.

The drama society has taught them many things. “I had stage phobia, but not any more,” says Dabas. Having learned to speak loudly while performing, they say their friends and family now accuse them of shouting all the time. “This is how we speak now, and my parents have started calling me Dolly Bindra,” Harpeet adds.

The college-funded society, which has 50-60 performances a year, has won many awards and accolades. Last year, they won Asmita's National Street Play Competition. They were also awarded with the Best Director Award during Hansraj College’s Annual Street Theatre Festival and DU festival. At IIT Kanpur Theatre Festival, a member was awarded the Best Actress Award.

The girls have witnessed various mishaps. But they say, that the experience they have garnered more than compensates for those minor hiccups. “There is nothing more satisfying for an artist than to be acknowledged,” says Divija Rakhowa.

About their performance

They primarily use duppattas, daflis, laathis, dhols and gulals as props. Their plays are short, crisp and to-the-point with a maximum duration of
20-25 minutes. They also use jingles, manual music, dance, unique dropping formations, comic tough, tragic turns and daily incidents in their productions to bring out a unique flavour.

What makes them click:
Their passion to pitch in and bring about a change
Members: 25
President: No president, everyone is equal
Biggest competitor: They are their own competitor
How to be a member: Anyone from the college can be a part of the group after clearing the audition
Ideology of the group: Keep things simple, respect the team mates, dig for ideas, concentrate on their cause and get working on it