Manch, which started out as a hobby club on the Infosys campus, is now going places by giving back-to-back power-packed performances in the City
This bunch of 25 youngsters is like any other group of techies — working on new programmes and creating ground-breaking gadgets. It is during weekends and outside work hours that their true colours come to the fore when they double up as actors. Started in 2004 as one of the hobby clubs on the Infosys campus, Manch has become one of the emerging theatre groups in the city to reckon with.
Manch had a humble beginning and performed plays on campus. Later, it went into hibernation as members who were also employees had to shift from Hyderabad due to work. In 2008, the remaining members took up the challenge to re-launch Manch. Through their power-packed 15 performances in the past one-and-a-half years, Manch has made Hyderabadis sit up and take notice of them as more than just a hobby club. It is the principles Manch follows and abide by that set it apart from the rest.
“In spite of the innumerable requests we receive for repeating shows, we haven’t performed any of our shows for the second time. This way, the purpose of the group, which is to perform plays, is served. It is the love for acting that brought us together and we like to satisfy that love with as many plays as possible. Also, since the members in Infosys are from different parts of the country with varied cultural backgrounds, we find it comfortable performing in English. Moreover, there are many local theatre groups that stage plays in Hindi and Telugu,” one of the founding members, Riyaz Usman, says.
Some of the plays that Manch has staged in Hyderabad include adaptations of God of Carnage, Business is War and Doubt: A Parable. God of Carnage is a black comedy which was acclaimed in London, New York and France, while Doubt: A Parable is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner.
“We ensure that we pick award-winning plays to perform as the audience gets to witness plays that legends of theatre had once performed. We are no comparison to the original performers but through this, we intend to spread the word about these legends and their work,” he says.
Apart from performing, Manch has ventured into holding theatre workshops for children and adults.
“Since the past six months, we have started to hold theatre workshops to earn extra money that will help us in production. We do not have any source of funds but we survive with the ticket money that we receive and the workshops that we hold,” Usman says.
Hyderabad is not known for affordable stages where start-up groups could showcase their talent. Manch members feel that it was Lamakaan’s foray in the field that proved to be a boon for them.
“Lamakaan has been a great help and encouragement for us. As a small group, we couldn’t afford to perform at NIFT or Ravindra Bharati. Even though Lamakaan is not the best stage for performing arts, it is an encouragement for new theatre groups in the city. Moreover, the founders of the organizations are theatre lovers and this proved beneficial for us,” Usman says.