KK Abdul Rahoof
For a long time the Sarojini Naidu School in the University of Hyderabad lay abandoned. But of late the place is abuzz with activity, loud dialogues and music on almost any given evening. Ever since the place was taken over by Avartan, a theatre group comprising of students from across academic disciplines, the school has been the hub of all workshops and rehearsals for upcoming theatre performances.
Avartan, an independent theatre club of UoH, aims to spread awareness about theatre and its possibilities among students. With objectives like personality development, performing skills and understanding the applied theatre, the club was found in 2007 under the supervision of few faculties from the University Theatre Arts department.
“Though our university provides theatre as an academic subject, it has limitations to accommodate more people. The idea of an independent theatre group came to my mind after I decided to train more people in the performing arts,” says Satyabrata Rout, the founder of Avartan and associate professor of University Theatre Arts department. “The club primarily seeks to empower students from different communities. It comprises of students from various cultures, communities and academic backgrounds and allows them to share their performing abilities,” he adds.
The participatory nature of the club is widely recognised on the campus. According to the members, Avartan has an inclusive platform for them to express and improve their skills. “Since my school days, I was attracted to theatre, and I used to take part in different plays back home. After joining UoH, Avartan became my platform to spruce up my acting abilities,” says Krishnasoni, a Hindi PhD student from Bihar. “Now, being with this group, I am getting the opportunity to write and direct plays,” adds Krishna, secretary of the club.
For some students, the group has been an important part in their campus life, which helped them to network with people. “Avartan workshops helped me get along with students from different academic backgrounds, and it also taught me team spirit,” says Shikha Sharma, an MA Linguistic student. “In future, even after my university life, I would love to take part in theatre plays, if given a chance,” she grins.
Tarun Dhariwal, a student of M.Tech Artificial Intelligence, finds Avartan analyses important social issues through its plays. “I like to entertain people for different social causes. Undoubtedly this club has been encouraging my interests,” he says. Though Tarun is going to take up a job as an engineer he doesn’t want to discontinue his experiments with theatre. “Avartan has inspired me tremendously and in the future, I would like to be an engineer-cum-theatre artiste,” he says.
What makes Avartan a winner with most students is that it produces multilingual plays. “On stage, we are given the opportunity to deliver dialogues in whichever language we are proficient,” says Princy, a student of linguistics from Kerala.
She also thinks that the club helps beginners, like her, in theatre production. “Though I didn’t have any previous experience, they encouraged me to do an important role in the previous play. Now I am confident enough to stretch my abilities,” she says.
Avartan conducts workshops in every semester and train students in various techniques of theatre. So far, more than 10 plays have been staged in the campus. Some of the plays also have been staged at other universities in Goa and Chhattisgarh.