The center stage

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Last week, in St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, was dedicated to the aspiring theatre people. It was the English Literature department festival, Ithaka. St. Xavier’s college is well known for the various cultural and extracurricular activities that it offers to its students for their overall development. The festivals like Ithaka have been the differentiating factor between St. Xavier’s and other colleges.
Ithaka was introduced in this college in the academic year 1990-1991 under the guidance of the former English department head Dr. Eunice D’Souza. For past 20 years, this festival has given some brilliant actors and directors to present theatre.

Although it is the English department festival, it surely accommodates all the students in St. Xavier’s across faculty as creativity has no boundaries. The talented actors, directors, producers, costume designers of the entire college come together to put up a brilliant show to the audience in and out of the college. There are several other students who handle the technical department like sound and light, who get the sponsors for the show to be put up on stage and for the publicity of the festival. The total number of students involved in this festival is generally about 100-150. What this festival is mainly about is the one act plays it presents. Every year some of the popular and famous plays are directed by the students and the 3 best of the lot are presented on the main days of Ithaka. It is a great way to encourage the amateurs to continue their passion along with their academics. This is also a way to give chance to your own potentials and talents, not to mention the other important lessons like team work and leadership.
This year, in Ithaka 2011, along with the plays, there were several other activities that kept the excitement on throughout. There was a stand up comedy event and a creative writing event. Along with these there was a panel discussion on graphic novels and exhibition on Ithakas in the past. Another interesting event that it presented was rehearsed readings. It was about how the play looks when it’s not staged. Basically, it was a play reading event. On the final days of Ithaka, there were some mind blowing plays. First one I saw was Americano which was directed by Vikrant Dhote, who was also one of the heads of Ithaka. It’s a play by Mr. Arvind Sivakumaran and it was very well made and we could see some brilliant performances in the play.

The next was Henry IV by Luigi Pirandello, revised by Tom Stoppard and directed by Spriha Gupta. Along with huge cast and massive stage set up, this play definitely deserved a standing ovation. The last but not the least was the Importance of being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, directed by Raveena Joseph along with the assistant director Tanvi Shah. It was a rather smart idea to conclude Ithaka 2011 in a humorous manner. The success of this festival was in all shows being full and as a part of audience to this spectacular event I didn’t feel it was a waste of time. The efforts taken by each of them on stage and behind the stage was worth witnessing. It’s also because of the sponsors that the festival got, it was possible to go out on stage and make it all happen.

Events such a Ithaka are very necessary to draw the youth of today towards literature and arts. Only when they come closer to these fields can they preserve India’s rich cultural heritage for the future generations .

At the end of the day when I walked out of the college hall after some amazing plays and awesome performances, I would not regret coming back to college next year around Ithaka time just to watch my fellow students and appreciate their work.

The author is a final year student of St. Xavier’s College

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