Journey to pandies

Plays with Hansraj College Dram Soc.

1987 – Lorca’s Blood Wedding (1932)

Lorca’s lyrical use of a  Spanish love story as point of entry critiquing violence and the masculinity (machismo) lying at the core of our social living provided the first critique of the masculine and the patriarchal. The play was tentatively staged in the college auditorium and then taken to the AIFACS auditorium in January 1988.

1988 – Ngugi’s The Trial of Dedan Kemathi (1976)

Sanjay was introduced to this play by a Kenyan friend. While academia was still largely unaware of Ngugi, his staunch left credentials just beginning to show themselves, Sanjay directed this play based on the life of a Kenyan revolutionary, a freedom fighter, whose life and teachings offered a critique of the way Kenya had evolved post independence. The parallels with Bhagat Singh, S C Bose, Azad were really obvious as also the critique of the way the nations had evolved. The parallels were stressed by, for instance, readings from Bhagat Singh’s Dastavej (documents/writings).

1989 – Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata (1907)

An experimental rendering of Strindberg’s surreal/early absurd theatre. A lot of fun as we all grappled with this engaging though abstruse play. As a director it added considerably to my repertoire as one stepped beyond the naturalistic. An arc of three levels was constructed at the back of the stage and it was like an audience of actors facing the audience. No entries or exits, actors stood and performed, often from the levels themselves.

1990 – Vicente Lenero’s The Bricklayers (1976)

Introduced to us by a scholar studying Spanish who also translated it for our performance specifically. The play looked at the world from the perspective of onsite workers, their lives including their sex lives came under purview. Sanjay played with gender crossovers for the first time as many of the roles in this almost exclusive male ensemble were played by girls. 

1991 – Genet’s The Balcony (1956)

Possibly the most challenging and definitely the most riveting. This play along with Brecht that followed established a reputation at a par with professional for the Dram Soc and got Sanjay into contention as a leading stage director. He directed two ‘versions’ of the play, the text was the same (Bernard Frechtman translation) but in one version the costume, set and music was western and attempt was to recreate a semblance for France, the other used Bollywood music, and Indian dialects in the background along with costumes that were reminiscent of a brothel in aa Indian city like Delhi. 

1992 – Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948) 

Sanjay sought to evoke the fun and exuberance of Brecht, again using an alternate cast and using musicians and singers from the college students’ ensemble, the production truly aspired towards a great staging of one of the greatest dramatists in the history of theatre. 

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