In August 2015, FLAME’s student theatre team participated in a theatre event at Mumbai’s Sophia College Festival called Kaleidoscope – Mano Ya Na Mano. The play performed by the team was called ‘Jakadti Bediyan’. It was set in a rural Indian household and revolved around the lives of its occupants and their conceptions or rather misconceptions regarding taboos and superstitions that are prevalent even today, in the so called contemporary society. The play was written, scripted, directed and acted out entirely by us – the student theatre team of FLAME. Despite tough competition from several colleges and institutes, we were named the winners at the event. The concept, the acting and the setup, all went down well with the audience and we won unanimously. We also earned immense appreciation for breaking the clutter and presenting an entertaining act with a socially relevant message.
We were expecting a routine trophy as a reward, but what we heard next truly surprised us. As a reward for winning the competition, we were awarded an opportunity to perform the same act, at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai. When we got to know this, we were euphoric. The National Centre for Performing Arts is a multi-venue, multi-purpose cultural center in Mumbai, India, which aims to promote and preserve India’s heritage of music, dance, theatre, film, literature and photography. The NCPA has hosted many national and international performers over the years like Parveen Sultana, Shabana Azmi, production of Jane Eyre and The New Jersey Ballet, which staged India’s first full length classical ballet with its Nutcracker production. To perform on the same stage as them, in front of a live audience is no small feat. That is the venue for art circuit’s crème de la crème, and we would be performing in it!
For anyone who is even remotely interested in theatre, this comes as a huge opportunity. So naturally, when we got the invite, we couldn’t wait for the day to come. The performance date was set in December 2015, and we started improvising and preparing for it. We had to transform and upgrade the play from a routine inter-college competition to the level of NCPA’s expectations. Not that the play was lacking anything. It had a very strong storyline and was conceptually very creative. We all put our best foot forward, but we had to scale it up nonetheless. We started preparing for it with zest, and left no stone unturned in fine tuning the play. FLAME whole heartedly supported us in this endeavor and encouraged us. We meticulously rehearsed again and again, and were theatre ready.
Finally, on the 15th of December 2015, we arrived in Mumbai at the NCPA, anxious yet excited to see what it would feel like to perform on a platform of this magnitude. When we stepped inside the theatre, saw the stage, the lights and the green rooms, we were simply awestruck. It was a dream come true. When we went on that stage for the first time, to do a stage rehearsal, we realized the enormity of the opportunity we had to showcase our talent and to make FLAME proud. We were eight of us, and all were quite nervous and overwhelmed. However, despite all the anticipation and anxiety, we successfully performed our play and received resounding appreciation from a completely sold out house. Yes, our first show was completely sold.
All in all, the entire production turned out to be a colossal success. Just like this time, we hope to get more such opportunities in the future and look forward to garnering all the possible laurels and experiences in the process. Our faith and our confidence is now strengthened. No trophy or gifts could have surpassed this reward. It was an achievement that made us proud of our choices, and talent.