Campus and Creative Spaces: Theatre as a Tool of Collaboration and Navigating Healthy Competition
This article explores the theatre scene at Ashoka University and how it has become a space of emerging productions, and friendships and taking theatre beyond the actor
Theatre emerges as a dynamic thread weaving together diverse narratives, emotions, and perspectives in the vibrant tapestry of any campus culture. At Ashoka University, it extends far beyond the confines of The Green Room, (TGR), the theatre society. The theatrical landscape on campus is a dynamic fusion of both society-led and independent productions, all of which work together to create a blend of artistic expression. The line between society and independent endeavours blurs, reflecting Ashoka’s dedication to fostering a collaborative creative community.
In the current academic year, the campus has witnessed a surge in theatrical productions, showcasing the enthusiastic performing arts culture that thrives within our community. The recent addition of the Black Box Theatre has significantly elevated the quality of equipment available for these plays, providing a space for creativity to flourish.
Despite its popularity, securing access to the Black Box for performances remains a challenge, leading most rehearsals to spill into alternative spaces. Nevertheless, the campus has also witnessed the emergence of nukkad natak and tabletop plays, demonstrating the diversity of theatrical expression. Very recently, The Comic Relief hosted Thursday Night Live—an event that showcased multiple sketch comedy performances by both students and professors and also brought up a different nature of performance and comedy.
What sets the theatre scene apart at Ashoka is the collaborative spirit that permeates both independent and club productions. Purujit Banwasi (UG’24), a member of The Green Room, highlights the unique essence of Ashoka’s theatre community. He emphasises that “although an underlying competitive spirit exists among productions each semester, the actual essence of theatre unfolds whenever a play is in production. Members from various productions rally together, offering support with props, logistics, and even marketing efforts”. According to Banwasi, this collective commitment to the success of each production is what makes the theatre culture at Ashoka truly special. Amid competition, a sense of camaraderie prevails, underscoring the shared passion for the performing arts that unites the campus community.
Smriti (UG’25) who is currently a member of TGR but previously has done independent production mentions how people are interacting with theatre as a craft, experimenting and playing around with it, “In the spring semester of 2023, the theatrical landscape at Ashoka experienced a remarkable surge. Productions like “Hold the Mushrooms,” “Shikhandi,” and independent plays such as “Doubt” and “Kumbh Ka Mela ” garnered significant attention. I observed a heightened enthusiasm among the audience, with more frequent and passionate conversations about the plays and their impact.” It seemed like theatre became a focal point for multiple discussions, extending its influence beyond the immediate participants to engage the broader student body.
Beyond the spotlight and the applause, it entails a routine of late-night practices—a shared process with a dedicated group that often transforms into the forging of enduring friendships, giving theatre its unmistakable clique nature. These theatre kids are so annoying. But also, the theatre enthusiasts on campus, immersed in the world of thespian endeavours, undergo a profound understanding that transcends mere acting—it is about embracing the entirety of the theatrical experience, where every element contributes to the magic of storytelling.
The Ashoka audience also is very receptive to these efforts, showing up to productions day after day, especially as the students reach the end of the academic semester. Most of the productions have seen high numbers of audiences even standing inside the Black Box, and showing up as early as 2 hours before the productions. This semester is already at a great start with Jo Tum Chaaho an adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It already being performed, and receiving a heartwarming number of audience and a nukkad natak by The Green Room that has garnered much love on the visual choreography and energy it brought to the campus. Excited to see what more theatre at Ashoka has to bring in upcoming semesters.
(Written by Yashika Singla, an English and Media Studies major from the undergraduate batch of 2024 at Ashoka University)