Inter-collegiate Drama Competitions

SSI NATIONAL DRAMA COMPETITION 2019

This year we were once again privileged to hold the SSI National Drama Competition in the auditorium of Indraprastha College for Women, thanks to the generosity and kindness shown by the Principal, Dr Babli Moitra Saraf. The auditorium and other facilities provided by the college were excellent, and the cheerful efficiency of the I.P. student volunteers led by Dr Bhavna Malhotra ensured that the competition was a great success.

The judges for the event were Sunit Tandon, well known theatre director, actor and broadcaster, Kuljeet Singh of Atelier Theatre, who has directed many plays in Delhi University and elsewhere, and Dr Poonam Trivedi, former Associate Professor of I. P. College and author of several highly regarded works on Shakespeare including Shakespeare and Indian Cinemas: Local Habitations, co-edited with Paromita Chakravarti, New York: Routledge, 2019. We also welcomed as a guest the noted actor Kusum Haidar, who has many times been a judge for our event, and we were delighted to have theatre director Raviraj Sagar also among the audience.

The competition was inaugurated with a welcome speech by Dr Babli Moitra Saraf, who spoke of recent researches that have interested her in the field of performance of Shakespeare and the questions of accentism, translations and adaptations. Unfortunately, her work called her away from the event before she could witness the astonishingly inventive adaptations that some of the colleges came up with this year.

The SSI President Professor Rajiva Verma spoke to the audience about the early years of the event, and emphasised that participating in the performance of a Shakespeare play was more stimulating and illuminating than simply reading or watching could ever be.

The host college opened the day’s plays with a performance in Hindi called “Imli and Mona” based on Emilia and Desdemona which highlighted the close and supportive relationship between the two women. It was followed by an exuberant and well- rehearsed presentation from Jesus and Mary College, incorporating formal elements from street theatre, stand-up comedy and rap music. It began with women protestors objecting to their street play being stopped by the police, and continued with the female police inspector watching their performance in the manner of Christopher Sly in The Taming of the Shrew. The play highlighted the patriarchal assumptions embedded in Indian society which marries off its daughters to men who expect them to be ‘homely’ and ‘adjusting’. In this version Kate was tamed but Bianca sprang a surprise at the end. This play won the second runner-up for Best Overall performance.

Janki Devi Memorial College presented scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Puck applies the love juice to the wrong young Athenians and causes much comic confusion as Lysander rejects Hermia and the two girls engage in a jealous quarrel. The choreography of the numerous fairies and the live music made the production striking one, and Puck was splendidly energetic and mischievous. This team shared the “Classic Shakespeare” prize with SPM College.

Zakir Husain College (E) presented a version of King Learset in modern India in which the three daughters were replaced by three sons, all candidates in the elections. The television debate scene with its typical participants was amusing and went down well with the audience but some viewers felt that it repeated a device used last year, and that too much of the original Shakespeare was lost.

Acharya Narendra Dev College, entering the competition for the first time, presented the death of Cleopatra in Shakespearean English. Much care had been taken with the staging, and the costumes of the Romans and the Egyptians, and the performance of Cleopatra was a creditable one.

The last play before the lunch break was a complete tour de force as Jamia Millia Islamia set a version of Macbethentirely inside a mental asylum. All the play’s characters were patients in grey hospital gowns, clearly mentally disturbed, yet recognisably Shakespeare’s characters. Despite this revolutionary setting, all the lines of the play were still Shakespeare’s, albeit taken in a different sequence as the characters mentally relived scenes of guilt and horror from different parts of the play such as the murder of Banquo and the appearance of his ghost, the sleepwalking of Lady Macbeth and so on. The culmination was the electric shock treatment given to Macbeth which killed him. This play came second overall, and won a certificate for Most Original Concept while the actor playing Macbeth was Runner Up for the Best Actor prize.

After lunch the first play was from Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College which put on a lively sequence from The Comedy of Errorsin Shakespearean English. Everyone on stage and in the audience enjoyed this cheerful slapstick and it won a Best Comic actor prize for the student playing Dromio and shared the “Classic Shakespeare” prize with Janki Devi Memorial College.

Since IIS Jaipur failed to show up, for the second time running, the next play was “Khan Liyaqat” a version of King Lear, set in the immediate post- Independence period as zamindari came to an end. An old fashioned gramophone and a huge ornate wooden rocking chair created the feel of a rich landlord’s home. Like Lear, Khan Liyaqat intends to divide his property among his three daughters, first insisting on their declaring their love for him. The youngest refuses while the eldest is most effusive in expressing affection for her father but later dominates both her father and husband, and rejected and humilited Liyaqat descends into pathetic madness. Excellent acting all round ensured that this play won the first prize and Best Actor award.

Deshbandhu College which has been steadily improving its performance from year to year presented “Haziq”based on Hamlet and focusing on the disgust felt by the Hamlet figure for his mother’s hasty remarriage. The whole play was set in a Muslim community of which the slain elder Hamlet had been the Imam. The setting and costumes were well-thought- out but the play was too long and lost its focus on the mother- son relationship as it attempted to cover the deaths of the figures analogous to Polonius, Laertes, Gertrude, Claudius and Hamlet himself in the final few minutes, which diluted the psychological tension of the first half.

The last play was put on by St Stephen’s College and was a lively comedy based on a play by Ann Marie Macdonald called “Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet.” An earnest PhD student, Constance, is convinced that Shakespeare’s tragedies had originally been comedies, and that the sad endings could be averted by the intervention of a Wise Fool. She enters several of the plays, looking for this Wise Fool and encounters a Juliet and a Desdemona far different from her assumptions. The play was satirical and parodic but also a journey of self- discovery for Constance who turned out herself to be the Wise Fool she had been searching for. The able acting of Nickie Bareja brought the character to life and Arnav Michael played the PhD supervisor, Othello and Romeo with comic verve.

The day ended with the high excitement of the prize distribution which saw the SSI present its new rolling trophy to the winning team from Zakir Husain College (Morning) and the same college which has come second twice and first three times, was given the old trophy for keeps in recognition of their outstanding performances.

The auditorium was full throughout the day with enthusiastic and attentive viewers who seemed to enjoy all the plays enormously. As usual, the biggest reward for the SSI is to see more than 200 student team members engage creatively and confidently with Shakespeare, interpreting his plays in an Indian context and making his plays speak to their concerns.

Harriet Raghunathan

Drama Coordinator

Intercollegiate Drama Competition 2014

The Fourth Annual Shakespeare Society of India Drama Competition was held on 5 March, 2014 at the ILLL Auditorium, University of Delhi. Teams from different colleges of the University of Delhi as well as one from Jadavpur University participated in the event. Like last year, this year too, teams were free to present Shakespeare in original, in translation or in an adaptation. A fabulous variety ranging from authentic to highly innovative entertained the audience with a full day of performances.
The judges were Prof. R.W. Desai and Ms. Davinder Mohini Ahuja.
The following teams participated:
1. Bharti College
2. Bhaskarachargya College
3. Delhi College of Arts and Commerce
4. Deshbandhu College
5. Dyal Singh College (E)
6. Indraprastha College for Women
7. Jadavpur University, West Bengal
8. Janki Devi Mahavidyalay
9. Jesus and Mary College
10. Lady Shri Ram College
11. PGDAV (M)
12. Shyama Prasad Mukherji College
13. Shyam Lal College

List of Prize Winners
1. Best Team: Lady Shri Ram College
2. Second Best Team: Jadavpur University
3. Third Best Team: Janki Devi Mahavidyalay
4. Best Costumes: Jesus and Mary College
5. Best Production Design: PGDAV (M) College
6. Best Special Effects: Jadavpur University
7. Most Original Concept: Deshbandhu College
8. Special Mention: The “chorus” in Coriolanus by Janki Devi Mahavidyalay
9. Special Mention for Acting: Gaurav Singh Panwar of PGDAV (M) College as Cassius
10. First Prize for Acting: Natallia Khanijo of LSR as Desdemona/Ophelia
11. Second Prize for Acting: Chhaya Karnatak of Dyal Singh (E) College as Lady Macbeth
12. Third Prize for Acting: Shruti Sahu of Deshbandhu College as Shylock

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Intercollegiate Drama Competition 2013 Report  

The Third Annual Shakespeare Society of India Drama Competition was held on 23 January, 2013 at the SP Jain Auditorium, University of Delhi, South Campus.  There were ten teams competing, including a team from Jadavpur University—so our little event has grown by leaps and bounds and is now attracting national attention!

The mandate this time was Shakespeare in English or in adaptation.  We had a veritable dramatic feast on our hands, with Romeo and Juliet in Punjabi, complete with boisterous bhangra (Dyal Singh Eve.), Hermia and Helena’s dialogue in A Midsummer Night’s Dream enacted in Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, Malaylam and English (JDM,) the backstory of Lear’s daughters or how Goneril and Regan became the cold and pitiless women of Shakespeare’s play (IP,) the trial scene from the Merchant of Venice with sumptuous costumes (JMC,) a Hindi adaptation of the Gloucester-Edgar-Edmund imbroglio with a female angle added (Shyam Lal College,) a highly original take on Hamlet, or Homlet as it was called with the characters fighting over a poultry farm (Venkateswera,) a vibrant Hindi folk adaptation of Falstaff and his antics in Henry IV Part 1 (LSR) and the assassination of Julius Caesar complete with a female Brutus, gobs of tomato paste for blood and a seating arrangement very reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (St. Stephen’s).  Some teams attempted very difficult and complex scenes like the death of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra (PGDAV).  The costumes were bright and vibrant, music was used to telling effect, the acting superlative and the interpretations fresh.  The Jadavpur team did a take on the play within the play (Hamlet) making their enactment too take the form of an embedded narrative: a group cheekily getting ready to perform at the SSI competition in Delhi!  They played around playfully with heavily accented English.  In some productions, one actor played multiple roles, an approach to theatre at once economic and avant garde.

The auditorium was packed to capacity and it was to the credit of the young performers that very often there was pin drop silence and loud laughter right on cue.  The judges were Dr. Angelie Multani from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi, whose area of specialisation is Indian theatre, Mr. Anirudh Nair, a member of who has dealt with theatre in schools for many years and Prof. Shormishtha Panja, President, SSI. All the judges admitted that judging the competition was really difficult because there were so many excellent performances.

List of Participating Teams

  1. Dyal Singh College (E)
  2. Indraprastha College for Women
  3. Jadavpur University, West Bengal
  4. Janki Devi Mahavidyalay
  5. Jesus and Mary College
  6. Lady Shri Ram College
  7. PGDAV (M)
  8. Shyam Lal College
  9. Sri Venkateswara College
  10. St. Stephen’s College

The following prizes were given:

Best Team (SSI Rolling Trophy): Sri Venkateswara College

2nd Best Team: LSR College

3rd Best Team: Jadavpur University

First Prize, Acting: Shantanu Anam, Sri Venkateswara College

Second Prize, Acting: Sanjana Verma, JDM College

Third Prize, Acting:  Arkaprabha Chakraborty, Jadavpur University

Best Original Concept: Sri Venkateswara College

Best Production Design: LSR College

Best Special Effects: St. Stephen’s College

Best Costumes: LSR College

Special Mention for Overall Production Excellence: Janki Devi Memorial College and St. Stephen’s College

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Intercollegiate Drama Competition Report 2012

The Shakespeare Society of India organized its second Annual Intercollegiate Drama Competition at S P Jain Auditorium, University of Delhi South Campus on 31 January 2012, which was a great success. Teams were invited to enact any scene or part of a scene from a Shakespeare play and the performances were expected to be of a minimum of 15 minutes’ to a maximum of 30 minutes’ duration.  A total of 11 teams from different colleges gave excellent performances and kept the audiences riveted for over 5 hours. The event was judged by Mr. Rajinder Nath and Mr. Dilip Basu.

The following teams participated in the event:

Name of College Play from which the scene was chosen
Bharti College Macbeth
Gargi College A Midsummer Night’s Dream
I P College Othello
Janki Devi Memorial College Twelfth Night
Jesus and Mary College Othello
Lady Sri Ram College “Bahar ka Mausam” A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Maharaja Agrasen College As You Like It
PGDAV College (M) Othello
Shivaji College Hamlet
Shyam Lal College (M) Othello
St. Stephen’s College Macbeth

The following prizes were given:

Award College Play from which Scene Chosen/ Character portrayed
Rolling Trophy for Best Performance I P College Othello
Runner Up Team Lady Sri Ram College A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Best Production Design St. Stephen’s College Macbeth
Best Costumes Lady Sri Ram College A Midsummer Night’s Dream
First Prize for Individual Performance St. Stephen’s College Macbeth/ Macbeth
Second Prize for Individual Performance Gargi College A Midsummer Night’s Dream/ Bottom
Third Prize for Individual Performance I P College Othello/ Emilia

As part of its activities, the Shakespeare Society of India holds an annual inter-collegiate Shakespeare Drama Competition. This time it will be held on 31 January 2012. We request you to send a team of students from your college to enact any scene or part of a scene from a Shakespeare play. Students may choose to do the scene from the English Shakespeare text or in translation into an Indian language. The performance should be of a minimum of15 minutes’ to a maximum of 30 minutes’ duration, and will be judged by eminent theatre personalities. A rolling trophy will be awarded to the best team and there will be several other team and individual prizes.

The last drama competition held on 20 January 2011 at Khalsa College Auditorium had elicited very enthusiastic participation from many colleges of the University of Delhi. The event was marked by a remarkably high level of inertest by students and teachers and had some excellent performances. You may see a full report of the event as well as a few pictures by scrolling down this page.

Please send a mail expressing your interest along with the name of the play as well as the act and the scene chosen by 18 November 2011.

Intercollegiate Drama Competition 2011 Report

The Shakespeare Society of India organized an Intercollegiate Drama Competition at Khalsa College Auditorium on 20 January 2011, which elicited enthusiastic participation from many Colleges. Teams were invited to enact any scene or part of a scene from a Shakespeare play and the performances were expected to be of a minimum of 15 minutes’ to a maximum of 30 minutes’ duration.  A total of 10 teams from 9 Colleges participated in the event and presented performances that were remarkably engaging, creative and polished.

The show was judged by Mr. Rajinder Nath, the acclaimed director and theatre person, and Prof. R. W. Desai, the ex-President of SSI and Retired Professor, Department of English, University of Delhi. The judges faced an extremely challenging task of selecting one team for the rolling trophy for best performance and three actors for individual prizes from an abundance of extremely good individual and team work shown by the participants. With the general consensus that there were several strong contenders for the few awards available, the prizes were given to the following:

Award College Play from which Scene Chosen/ Character portrayed
Rolling Trophy for Best Performance St. Stephen’s College Othello
First Prize for Individual Performance St. Stephen’s College Othello/ Iago
Second Prize for Individual Performance Dyal Singh College Antony and Cleopatra/ Cleopatra
Third Prize for Individual Performance Gargi College Macbeth/ Hecate

The full list of participating teams and the scenes presented is as follows:

College Play from which Scene Chosen
Bharti C Antony and Cleopatra
Dayal Singh C (E) Group A HamletGroup B Antony and Cleopatra
Gargi College Macbeth
JDM C As You Like It
Maharaja Agrasen C A Midsummber Night’s Dream
Motilal Nehru C (M) Julius Caesar
PGDAV C (M) The Merchant of Venice
Satyawati C (E) Macbeth
St. Stephens C Othello

It was heartening to see how hard the students had worked in learning their lines. Even in scenes with a great many people everything went smoothly. Costumes were elaborate.  The Bharti College girls wore splendid suits of armour and authentic helmets while playing a scene from Antony and Cleopatra.  The Maharaja Agrasen students had painted their arms and covered them with paper leaves: this made even the forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream into a character.  There were so many outstanding performances that the judges must have had a very difficult time.  Some fine performances were Othello in the St. Stephen’s scene, the Gravedigger in Dyal Singh (Eve.,) Shylock and Antonio in PGDAV College and Cleopatra and Proculeius in Bharti College.  Maharaja Agrasen’s scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream was visually stunning with the elaborate costumes, the choreography, the use of projected images and the music.  The St. Stephen’s scene was stark, elegant and minimal in the use of black costumes and choric figures who constantly commented on the action, their voices overlapping and rising to a confused babble to suggest the evils of rumour.  All the participants and the teachers who trained and directed them deserve a standing ovation!  A special vote of thanks to Dr. Jaswinder Singh, the Principal of S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, who so generously gave us the use of the auditorium, provided refreshments to all the participants and even spared time from his busy schedule to watch the event.  After this glorious start, we look forward to making this event an annual one.

St. Stephen’s College students in a scene from Othello

Another scene from Othello

A scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the students of Maharaja Agrasen College

The Gravedigger’s scene from Hamlet presented by the students of Dyal Singh (E) College

Bharti College students in a scene from Antony and Cleopatra

Another scene from Bharti College performance

A scene from The Merchant of Venice performed by PGDAV (M) studetns

One response to “Inter-collegiate Drama Competitions

  1. Nivedita Basu

    The photographs make the account quite lively!

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