Hyderabad theatre group La Fiesta on staging ‘Silence! The Court Is In Session’

Courting challenges The cast and crew of the play with Dimple (front left) by arrangement  

“The whole experience has been just liberating,” starts Manasa Uppuluri, one of the actors in Silence! The Court Is In Session, a play directed by Dimple Ramchandani. Manasa, 19, plays Samant but beyond that, she says she cannot give details on her character. But she does add that working on a play about women empowerment in the 1960s helped her celebrate womankind even more than she usually does, adding, “It makes young people really think about how society receives and treats women through different eras!”

Manasa is one of the actors in La Fiesta, the theatre group at St Francis College For Women. So it seems apt that this timeless production is seen as a bar-raiser to the trying times for women.

The English play by Vijay Tendulkar has a Marathi counterpart Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe. The script has been translated into more than 16 languages internationally. A political and social satire, the plot centres on a travelling theatre group, one of whom does not turn up for a show in a village. A local stage-hand is asked to step in and what follows is a mock trial in a ‘court-room’ to test the skills and wit of the new cast member.

“The themes of the play are very serious,” explains Manasa, “but the language of the play makes it so that everyone can understand and possibly relate. And Dimple, who is making her directorial debut, really set a great foundation for the cast. She let us take in the script and connect with the themes in our own way, so working in rehearsals for the past four months has been time-consuming but so worth it. Honestly, I could not even tell it was her directorial debut, she was so natural.”

On the scene

Loving the ever-growing space for homegrown theatre writing, Dimple, 20, is looking forward to audiences’ responses and reaction to the play. “Working on rehearsals has been more cathartic than I’d like to say! I did not want my first project to be overwhelming for myself, and for the actors especially. Any theatre actor needs empathy; it’s about behaviour. I tell them that their character is their best friend to instigate that. Having all women starring in the play was very much a conscious choice, because we can address the women bashing that goes on in society.” So, why this play?

The young director responds, “I’m an ardent fan of Girish Karnad and Vijay Tendulkar so this play just spoke volumes to me, especially now when we need our voices to be heard.”

(Silence! The Court Is In Session is to be staged on January 19, at 2.30 pm, at Ravindra Bharathi.)

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 10:06:17 AM |

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