Missiles & theatre
A group of engineers and scientists at DRDO stay up till wee hours for three months at a stretch rehearsing plays. And they love it.
“We generally meet after dinner at around 9.30 pm. It helps that we all stay in the same colony. But once practice starts it goes on till 2 am or so,” says Pulak Halder, a scientist working with the simulation of long-range aerospace vehicles.
With that much of time dedicated to theatre, it invariably becomes a family affair. While Pulak takes care of the stage and light, his wife, Sohini, the dean of admissions at the Aga Khan Academy, helps the engineers with what little theatre knowledge she picked up at workshops in Kolkata.
Most of those involved in the plays have no theatre background. “This time, we worked with method acting, which is quite popular in the global theatre scene,” explains Sohini, talking about their latest staging during Durga Puja.
This year, the group chose to pay tribute to Albert Camus to commemorate his birth centenary. Neanderthal — a play about the struggle of a newspaper to survive — was written by senior scientist Anindya Biswas. “It took me three months to write the play,” says Anindya, who has worked in the missile lab since 1992.
“We are busy the whole year, and we are aware that we have jobs of great social responsibility. But this is important for us as our lives tend to get monotonous. Theatre is a kind of breather for us. People are still tired from the Durga Puja production but the group is already asking about the next play.”
The fact that the group does not work with existing scripts adds to the challenge. “So there are no reference points for us,” adds Sohini.
Every year there are several performances. “We generally make the Dasara performance big since we get funds. But otherwise we have three shows over the year for sure — one for Rabindra Jayanti, one for Dasara and one in December for the annual get together,” shares Pulak.
“The group comes up with at least one new product,” adds scriptwriter Anindya. “We are all hard pressed for time, but it is the love to do something creative that makes us come out with these productions,” says Sohini.
Although the group has predominantly been made up of Bengalis so far, this year there was participation from people from other communities as well.
The scientists are also mulling the possibility of staging something on a larger scale soon. A hopeful Anindya says, “We are planning on translating scripts and also staging them for larger audiences. Let’s hope this happens.”
Source : Deccan Chronicle