Participating in Drama added much fun, laughter and pleasure to my life. Let me, in this and another post, share some incidents with you. If you are a parent do consider encouraging your child to take part in drama. Drama develops confidence in the child and it helps children to express themselves well. A child will learn how to speak better and to be more eloquent. All of this is valuable for one’s working life. Needless to say it is an excellent skill to have for one’s social life. Acting in plays gives you the confidence to speak on your feet and to make suggestions. Drama also helps one to understand the causes of tragedies, human emotions, human foibles, character and human weaknesses. We become better equipped to handle life’s challenges and to expect and solve problems. We understand humanity.

My Teachers

I was fortunate to have had teachers who spoke well and who encouraged me to deliver dramatic passages and poetry with passion at the school I attended. They were excellent role models. One teacher in particular was most inspiring. I would sit at the edge of my chair and listen to her intently as she read Faustus to us. She was brilliant in her enunciation and her declamation!

Oratorical and Elocution Contests

The school I attended organised oratorical and elocution contests and we, the students, were also encouraged to take part in inter-school contests. I took part in some of these competitions and I spent time practising my pieces, putting the right emphasis on the right words. I loved to use proper gestures and experimenting with the relevant facial expressions. For my efforts, I won trophies and awards!

Acting In School Productions

Drama was one other activity which the school supported. My school was an all girls school and we had an all boys school as our “brother” school. The two schools had a joint drama society which organised drama productions. These were usually plays by Shakespeare. So hence it was, that one year I auditioned for a part in Macbeth, and I was given the part of a witch in Macbeth. Rehearsing and acting with the boys gave me confidence and the other witches and I had much fun as we practised our lines. Picture me going round a cauldron (during rehearsals we had a bucket!) saying, “”Double double, toil and trouble..”

Advice From My Teacher

When I was in my last year of school, my then literature teacher, spoke to me about my future. She suggested that I should go to London and join a good Drama School and pursue a course in Drama rather than enrolling for an academic course. She thought I would do well studying Drama. Intent on acquiring higher qualifications, I told her that I would like to study at the local University. I was sure too that my father would not approve of my studying Drama.

The Plays

At University and after University I played the lead role in various plays, such as, that of Irene Hoffman in Judgement at Nuremberg, Hecuba in Euripedes’s Women of Troy and Augusta Snow in Jean Genet’s The Blacks. The other plays in which I have acted include the Caucasian Chalk Circle by B. Brecht, The Shepherd’s Chameleon by Ionesco, The inhabitants by O. Wynmark, The Intellectual Ladies by Moliere and The Proposal by Chekov.

Our Director

The Director of Judgement at Nuremberg was the Dean of the Law Faculty at our University. He was most patient with the diverse cast from different faculties. He would sit on the road with us as we waited for the sets to be delivered. The Dean was a most humble person. To me, he was a splendid human being.

The law students acting in the play were fascinated by the intricacies of the court trial. But there were fun moments too. For example, one senior law student had the rest of us in stitches when he said his one line of three words. He could not pronounce the letter “W”! Instead of saying “Where Were We?”, he said, “Vere Ver Ve?”

Women Of Troy

Following the success of Judgement of Nuremberg, the Dean decided to direct the play Women of Troy. I have often wondered if he had based his choice of Women of Troy on how well some of the actresses could cry. I know I cried well as Irene Hoffman. Women of Troy was one big weep! We seemed to be crying all the time! The chorus wept, Hecuba wept, Helen of Troy wept and so did the mad Cassandra! The undergraduate who played Cassandra gave a fabulous presentation. She ran around the stage like a demented person! As with the law student who played Helen, Cassandra was beautiful, slim and elegant. I, on the other hand, was quite the opposite!

The students designed and put the sets together. Chaos descended on the sets and backstage! The sets were Greek ruins but the ruined towers were not all in place until the last performance. A new part of the set was included at each performance! As they were “ruins”, no one in the audience noticed that something was missing! One of the actors playing the role of a Greek warrior-guard was a part-time news reader on the local TV station. All he did on stage was to stand still on the top of a wall and not say a word. As he had to be at the TV station by 9pm to read the evening news, he faked a collapse so he could leave the performance and go to the TV station. The good Dean was most kind and took it all in good spirit!

My Ego Bruised

The Dean decided that as Hecuba, I should walk down the ruined steps amidst the broken pillars. I had on a long gown and gingerly walked down the steps. After the first performance the Dean said to me that I had done well and that as I walked down the stairs, he thought I had looked so right for Hecuba! I did not know how to take this..was it a compliment? Hecuba, you see, was a grandmother and I was only 20 at the time! I think his comment affected my ego..a little!

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