THE SETTING was no less mystifying than the Hogwarts. Dark blue sky lit up by near full moon and scanned by occasional bats; silhouette of a castle rising at a distance; muffled squeals of children’s laughter and something magical waiting in the wings to happen.
What unfolded shortly was no less interesting than the story of the Little Prince. For those who have not read this amazing book by Antoine de Exupery, it is about a prince hailing from a distant planet only as large as the canopy of a guava tree. What makes it different is the fact that it can be read by adults as well as by children and enjoyed on two levels.
At Emerald Heights School it was the staging of a play named ‘Replacement’. As if by magic the replacement trick was pulled on the audience by the audience. Indore Theatre had organized its annual Diwali get-together at such a dramatic location, complete with two one act plays and a dinner. Hardly anyone showed up except the organizers and the actors. But the well disciplined students of the host school made it a giggling success.
One of the presentations was the winner of the university drama contest. It was powerful as pelting of stones by agitating students and equally confused as well but held the promise of outstanding talents. Replacement by Natya-Bharati showcased several elements of theatre in a one act play. A pulsating show of emotions by Sriram Jog; improvisations so effective that the act put together at a day’s notice turned out to be as slick as professional. Amateurs as they were, coming together after a day’s work, ran a tight ship of a skit with their teamwork. Only such combination makes the story of an unknown person riveting.
A story as abstract as someone’s who has forgotten his name serving as replacement for others. It had humour and deep seated pain. Children enjoyed it in a way no adult would.
It was unsettling to note that theatre folks, so many thriving in this city that they would easily form a human chain connecting any two auditoria in Indore, forfeited this opportunity to rub shoulders under the natural flood light. May be we lack a Bharat-Bhavan, or a National School of Drama, or a Prithvi Theatres in Indore to mobilize Hindi theatre. But let there be a spark; just one animated entry from half the self-proclaimed directors of this town, many such amphitheatres would come to fore.