Playing the muscleman in the SJC annual play 1


Cyril invited me to do a small part in the SJC annual play, a valuable source of “free attendance”

I was pleasantly surprised when Cyril invited me to play a small part in the Tamil Play for the annual day of St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchy. I was to be a muscle man who beats up Cyril with a few others towards the end of the play. Since I had no dialogues, I started skipping away to the library and other activities after two rounds of practice. I got together next only for the grand rehearsal. These are normally held only in the night in front of the famous Lawley hall. The hall itself is an ingenious Jesuit design. There were two long buildings that were parallel to each other and it is said that some priest decided to put a roof between them – thus was born our grand auditorium.

The annual days though are not held inside. We would do it outside in the corridor that joined the two buildings. The road in front was where the audience sat. My description may sounds gruesome, but it actually made a nice stage.

sjc annual day

Annual day of 1996-97. Ramachandran stands uncomfortably in the ‘Chairman’s’ robe. I am on the right end

The grand rehearsals at SJC are a serious affaire. Our audience consisted of many priests in their white robes – and they stood out in the darkness around them. GB our mentor was always there as the Fine Arts Coordinator. The play began and I silently awaited my role. After a long wait, I finally entered the stage with the rest of my gunda gang. We ‘chased’ Cyril and suddenly I realised that the rest of the muscle men had slowly withdrawn from the stage. Cyril was looking at me perplexed and was waving at my viciously shouting PO Da (get lost). Despite loosing my fellows, I was not planning to leave Cyril. Suddenly, I heard shouts from behind the stage saying “Dey Ullla Va da” – and these were angry voices. I reluctantly went in to find out that the plot had changed from the time I had gone to the rehearsal last! Cyril was to escape.

The grand rehearsals at SJC are a serious affaire. Our audience consisted of many priests in their white robes – and they stood out in the darkness around them. GB our mentor was always there as the Fine Arts Coordinator. The play began and I silently awaited my role. After a long wait, I finally entered the stage with the rest of my gang. We ‘chased’ Cyril and suddenly I realised that the rest of the muscle men had slowly withdrawn from the stage. Cyril was looking at me perplexed and was waving at my viciously shouting (get lost). Despite loosing my fellows, I was not planning to leave Cyril. Suddenly, I heard shouts from behind the stage saying “” – and these were angry voices. I reluctantly went in to find out that the plot had changed from the time I had gone to the rehearsal last! Cyril was to escape.I survived some anxious moments after that during the comments section. From the look on GBs face, I knew that he knew. But he did not choose to comment. Thus passed one of my most anxious moments of SJC life. I had got full 30 days of “free attendance” in the process and made full use of it! The play was a hit next night and thanks to the mishap, thirteen years down the line the play still continues to be memorable to me – as much of SJC life continues to be.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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