Friday, 6 October 2017

'WHITE TALE' BEHIND THE FOURTH WALL THEATRE – American College Madurai - Onyeuche Godson

English Literary Association (ELA) – The Department of English, American College, Madurai

Hear what He got to say
You would of have heard of Fourth Wall Theatre of American College, or probably your first time. And in case you’ve heard about it, there are tales regarding the theatre which are called WHITE yet to be known, and the story is narrated here. The questions one should ask himself or herself is,
What is this tale I’m yet to know?

First, the community of theatre has got to an era when its exhibition is beyond mere entertainment, and fun. In this present time, theatre and stage plays have come to stay and to fix a thread of million reconciliation of conflict in the society, as well as the global village. This is to say that stage plays have touched lives through purgation of emotional tension, known as catharsis. Tragedy as seen in plays is not meant to break the heart of audience, or to put them in fears; but to help them understand the meaning of life in its totality, in order to be cleansed from their negative and as well as inhuman aspect of life, and by so doing they are psychologically transformed which help one to see the good side of life, and to follow it as well. This is one of the functions of play (tragedy). 

In regards to the above, it is therefore important that people have view of stage plays, as moral life, and one-sided story of life will never remain the same. In case you have a nature of ‘theatre-not-my-thing’, you have not stepped into the other side of life, as the art and act of literature is purely centered in the totality of human life of all creeds, culture and traditions.      

Coming to Fourth wall theatre, American College;

It all started from nothing to something, from ‘play-play’ to ‘serious-play’, and from zero wall to Fourth Wall.  In the early 1980’s the Oberlin Shansi (An International Exchange Programme House), in the campus of American College had its exchange programme students stage plays – mostly comedy, which was then directed by Professor J. Vasantha (A music/drama Critic and excellent Director), who was a Professor of English in American College. Mr. N Elango (Head, Post Graduate & Research Department of English, American College), the Founder and Director of Fourth Wall Theatre was a student of Mr. J. Vasantha then. He worked as a stage Manager, under the theatre group of Mr. Vasantha known as The Curtain Club.

The Curtain Club staged mostly comedies of British Writers, such as Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, etc. Thereafter, Mr. Elango after passing through the institution became an Assistant Professor in American College in 1986, and formed the Fourth Wall Theatre in 1987. The fourth Wall started with plays both in Tamil and English languages, and excelled handsomely in classic plays in 1995 through the head work of Triad – the group of three in one Association. Their first classic play to be staged was Hayavadana by Girish Karnad in 2003 (ran for 12 shows). Other staged plays are as follows;

  • The Zoo Story by Edward Albee – 1996; perfomed in Pegasus – Cultural event of the English Department, American College.
  • In 2004, Shakespearean drama started – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, and As You Like It.
  • In 2010, Eugene O’neill’s The Hairy Ape
  • The Bear by Anton Chekhov
  • Then, The Twelfth Night

Casts of Hamlet at work to keep the script in the head - October, 2017 

The journey of the Fourth Wall continued in its theatric generation, and brings unique light of White Tales till date. Obviously, the Fourth Wall was the first theater to stage Shakespearean drama in the whole city of Madurai, which drew the attention of great number of audience with 50, 000 students. It ran 12 shows, with 2 shows daily. And talking of earlier stage plays, Hamlet will make the eighth Shakespearean play to be staged by the Fourth Wall Theatre.   

Mr. N. Elango, Director, Fourth Wall Theatre - AMC.

In an interview with the Founder and Director of Fourth Wall, Mr. N. Elango, on Wednesday, 4th October, 2017; he states that this year’s play (HAMLET) to be staged from Monday, 9th to Saturday, 14th October, 2017 is birthed in order to draw attention to human relationship – family and friends. According to him, as we cultivate soil, the human relationship should as well be cultivated. He further illustrates that cultivation cannot do in human relationship, but should be consciously and carefully nurtured. His question is,

What then is human relationship, and can it be taken for granted? –To be answered by the casts, through their artistic recreation of Hamlet, so be there!

Furthermore, He says,

‘Human communication has become inadequate to conserve human relationship’. 

As a result, it is important that the audience out there come to see this year’s play (Hamlet), in order to let them feel what human relationship truly is, and how it can be cultivated and nurtured. His message extends that the theatre stage is highly beneficial, and that cast and characters got to deliver a strong message to be interpreted by them, as well as the audience.    

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