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On stage, climate change & social unity

Shakespeare, the Chipko movement and Tagore’s Dakghar, these were some of the subjects explored by the six schools that made it to the finals of the Annual Inter-School Drama Festival, organised by the Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD), in association with British Council. The CSSD, affiliated to the University of London, aims to promote theatre in the classroom through the initiative.

Held on July 14 at Kala Mandir, the festival included environment and climate change, social unity and tolerance, cultural diversity and literature and the arts as its themes.

Young Horizons School’s play, Thus You Like It,was about young Sunny, who discovers his love for Shakespeare’s play As You Like It when the bard himself comes to his aid.

MP Birla Foundation’s A Small Step was based on the 1970’s Chipko Movement against rampant deforestation in the Garhwal region in Uttarakhand. The play received the first prize, with Deblina Chowdhury of Class X winning the best actress award for playing Gauda Devi, who urges people in her village to stand hugging trees to prevent them from being felled by woodcutters. Susmita Duari, who wrote the dialogues, was selected best teacher coordinator.

Apeejay School, Park Street came second with The Living Tree, about a young girl who is transformed into a tree every night. Once her secret is discovered, she is exploited by people, until she permanently turns into a tree. “We tried to explore the psychology of greed, and the extent it makes people go to,” said Bipasha Chakraborty, a teacher who helped in the production. St James came third with their play, The New Dawn. The other teams included The Heritage and North Point.

Director Suman Mukhopadhyay, actor Parambrata Chatterjee and Bruce Wooding of the CSSD judged the contest.

The first three teams received Rs 100,000, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively, with the other teams receiving Rs 10,000 each. “The schools have to submit a proposal explaining how they plan to utilise the money to promote theatre, after which we will hand it to them,” said Samarjit Guha, head of programmes, British Council, East India. The individual winners received laptops, along with the offer of a summer school course at the CSSD next year.

Said Shreyansh Rohatgi, of Apeejay, who picked up the best actor award for playing a conniving businessman: “I took up theatre in Class VI but quit because of the pressure of studies. I am still getting used to the win and that I will be going to the UK.”

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