Students from TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School learnt how the sound and lights played a significant role in a drama production

For the theatre arts students of TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School, a performance of Ponniyin Selvan drama provided great learning material. They were wonderstruck at the grandeur of the sets, the light and sound effects.

“I could not believe my eyes,” said R. Sanjay a student of class VIII, as he participated in an interactive session with the crew. “I learnt a lot about the effective use of lights. They were controlled using dimmers to create the different times of the day. It was also fantastic to see a life-size elephant made of wood come alive on stage,” he said.

T. Bala Saravanan, the lights designer for the play, explained how light and sound played a big role in determining the time, space and action. “I perform with lights,” he says. “Light also has a language. It interacts with the actors and audience. We create the environment, locality and seasons without disturbing the narrative structure. Even a minor lapse in concentration would lead to disaster,” says this Assistant Professor of Electronic Media and Mass Communication, Pondicherry University.

Participants were briefed on how lights were used to reveal the sets, create the mood for the play and how sound was used to set the tone. They were also introduced to different types of lights such as the spot and Fresnel lights. “We also learnt about movable sets, static ones and the towering fort wall. Now I understand how low cost set properties are made and how they are shifted from one place to the other,” said R. Theepika, a standard XI student.

There were also different types of swords, daggers and coloured helmets to distinguish the Chola and Pandava soldiers. “Not all swords and daggers were made of wood. One sword made of iron weighed around four kg,” shared B. Maha Swetha, Standard IX student.

“The main objective of bringing these children here is to kindle interest in drama,” said N. Rajakumar, theatre arts teacher. “Such interactions with the technical crew and actors motivate these students to involve themselves in drama. I brought them here to understand proscenium theatre. Already they have been introduced to open air theatre. I wanted them to know how minor changes in sets are made to differentiate one scene from the other,” said Rajakumar. As students of theatre arts, the students are trained in school to create story and develop a script for stage. “It is part of their curriculum. Getting students involved in theatre activity relaxes their body and mind and improves their concentration level,” said Rajakumar.

Ilango Kumaravel, the script writer for the play, briefed the students how the stage was designed and how visual language happened when the actor interacted with the set.