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Young And Talented

Tuesday, December 05, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

The Adi Marzban One-Act Play Competition for Gujarati plays was started four years ago by the Bhavan’s Kala Kendra’s Director of programmes, Kamlesh Mota. One would expect that a competition named after one of Parsi-Gujarati theatre stalwarts who wrote and directed mostly comedies, would focus on humour, but the young (though there is no age criterion) participants came up with a surprising variety of plays.

Gujarati theatre folks are worried about the decrease of young audiences for plays in that language, and competitions like this encourage original writing, as well as attract acting and directing talent. Watching some of the plays picked for the finals (after an elimination round), also showed that youngsters are not totally oblivious of what goes on around them.

One of the plays, Silent Scream, was a gripping two-hander, in which a man knocks on a door on a stormy night. Inside the house is a nervous young woman, who won’t open the door to him, in spite of his desperate pleas. But, the two have a conversation through the closed door, during which she reveals why she is so afraid and distrustful of men. Her past involves abuse and a resulting tragedy, that makes her shut herself up in the house, and brood on the events that wrecked her life.

The play, I Want To Tweet, written by Ankit Gor, has been winning awards and participating in theatre festivals for a few years now. The play is about a young man who is so bewitched by social media, that he does not have a normal life anymore. His addiction to his computer is because he realizes than an ordinary guy like him, can be anyone he wants on social media; the friends he does not have in real life, he has on social media. He realizes this is all make-believe, but the fantasy is real to him.

Another play that depicted the problems of youth was Blackjack, in which a cocky young lawyer, on a dare, gets a murder case reopened. The accused, who murdered three people, had confessed. When the lawyer starts to investigate, he uncovers horrific incidents of ragging that led to the brutal murders.

A competition like this (the awards are named after Gujarati theatre legends), provides a platform for talent. Let’s hope at least a few of those who participated in the event will actually go on to make their careers in theatre.

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