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There is a bustle across the colleges of Delhi University (DU) — one of the more culturally active wings in the Capital. At the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce lawns, a few young men and women, shout out to the crowd, singing at intervals and enacting scripts. At other college premises across the North Campus, rehearsals are on, with dialogues not just in Hindi and English, but Bangla and Gujarati too.
All the preparations are being made for the ongoing Atelier College Theatre Festival, for which Delhi-based theatre group, Atelier Theatre, is revisiting its six-year-old association with DU students. The sixth edition of the 16-day-long festival, which began on October 28, boasts of 157 entries this time, with 45 performances from eight states that include Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai and Jaipur among others. The Indian Express is the associate sponsor of the festival.
"We have a lot of new elements this time. Until 2011, we didn't have regional theatre, and this year, we have plays from West Bengal, Gujarat and Rajasthan, with the participants bringing productions in their own language. In addition to this, we also have a segment called 'Back to School Campus' with the idea to connect college to school, and a focus on students of class 11 and 12," says Kuljeet Singh, artistic director of Atelier's Theatre. The participating colleges include Khalsa College, SRCC, LSR, IP College, Ramjas College and Hindu College, among others.
Interesting inclusions are techniques such as Red Nose Clowning, a form of theatre which explores human absurdity with a clown as the main protagonist, along with a Dastangoi performance. "This kind of interface is necessary because not only is this a platform for them to practice, but they must also get exposed to new forms of theatre," says Singh. The annual festival kicked off with a production of Mantorang , a play based on the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, and directed by Singh.