Ramjas College authorities allegedly did not allow four plays on the theme of “nationalism” to be staged during an annual theatre festival Friday. The move prompted a protest from students, who wore black bands on their arms and black tape on their mouths.
Members of the Ramjas theatre group, Shunya, alleged that seven plays by different colleges were to be staged at the festival, but the principal asked for the scripts on Thursday evening and decided to cancel four plays, around the theme of nationalism, for “security reasons”. Acting principal P C Tulsian, however, said the decision to drop the plays had been taken by the college drama society.
Ramjas College had witnessed violence last month following an invite to JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar.
The four plays that were to be staged at Mukhatib, the annual theatre festival organised by the Ramjas drama society, were SGTB Khalsa College’s ‘Trump Card’, Dyal Singh College’s ‘Jokistaan’, Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce’s ‘Sawal to Uthega’ and Gargi College’s ‘Main Kashmir aur aap? Main Manipur’.
Lady Shri Ram College backed out of the festival as a mark of protest, while Miranda House and Kirori Mal College went ahead with their performances – ‘Hadsa-e-Paidaish’ and ‘The Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, respectively.
“Everything was on track till the principal called us for a meeting yesterday evening. Mukhatib happens every year, and there’s no point of giving scripts to authorities. It has never been done. But he asked for them and said there shouldn’t be plays on nationalism, and that we wouldn’t get permission for these because of security reasons,” alleged a member of Shunya, on condition of anonymity.
“We don’t want to provoke, and we know the situation is delicate, but it doesn’t mean we will allow people to silence us,” the member added.
A member of Gargi College’s theatre group alleged they were informed on Thursday evening that they wouldn’t be allowed to participate. “We got a call from the president of Shunya saying that college authorities were not giving a no-objection certificate. He said the Ramjas prinicipal was getting calls warning him of trouble if the four plays were staged,” the member claimed.
However, Tulsian claimed, “The students decided which plays to stage and which not to. They had a meeting yesterday, and the members themselves said they didn’t agree with staging four plays.” He said members of Shunya had not conveyed to him why they cancelled the plays.
What the synopsis says.
Trump card: “Cult worship…places the messiah over a pedestal of ‘good governance’ and ‘development’. The ones with dissent…are termed anti-national…”
Jokistaan: “The play starts with introduction of Jokistaan, where people live happily and crack jokes every day. But gradually this happiness is decreasing… The play showcases parallels between India and Jokistaan.”
Sawaal to Uthega: “No combination of 26 letters can define how intolerant India has become. The play focuses on raising questions whenever need arises…”
Main Kashmir aur aap? Main Manipur: “The play focuses on the ongoing problems in Kashmir and Manipur and tries to emphasise the power relations between the centre and periphery…”