THE TROUBLESOME TWANGS
Dramatics was one of the interests I had listed on my bio-data when I took up teaching. More than watching a play, I liked to participate in it as an actor, have all the fun during rehearsals with the special bonus of hobnobbing with great legends of theatre world. But, as a teacher, my role would be one of a director, a more stressful job.
In this particular school, dramatics had been given lot of importance. A few groups had been asked to get their productions ready for the dress rehearsal. The best among them would be chosen to be played on the annual day to which many VIPs would be invited.
Though the spirit of competition was there, I was not much worried as I had a talented set of students of class X and I had picked up the most dramatic play ‘Lithuania’. This play had been the favorite of students, adults and even film makers.
‘Lithuania’ told of a couple who were running an inn in a remote area. They would make extra money by killing rich customers secretly. Tragedy strikes when they come to know that the rich traveler they killed the previous night was none other than their own son who had gone to city long back to make money. He had not revealed himself to his parents on his arrival as he wanted to have some fun by surprising them in the morning.
The play was in 3-4 acts if I remember right. My students, particularly the ones playing the innkeeper and his wife were very good. Every sentence of theirs was meaningful and was delivered with a great sense of timing and drama.
I was confident that my students would walk away with the first prize though I had not bothered much about props and background music. I had banked wholly on the wonderful script and of course the intrinsic dramatic value of the starkly tragic story.
On the dress rehearsal day the open auditorium was packed with students, staff and parents.
The play commenced after an introduction by me in the wings. The tempo was slowly building up. Suddenly I heard a loud ‘Twa..a..ang’. The twangs kept coming after every sentence uttered by the actors. Baffled by the unexpected, unrehearsed sound effect, the children were getting visibly disoriented. I could see that the twangs were coming from an amplified guitar held by a man sitting in the pit. I was livid! But I could not go to stop him as it would distract the audience.
Later I learnt that he was a teacher from another school and a guitarist by hobby. He thought his twangs would enhance the dramatic mood of the play and so he was generously twanging every dialogue away to glory.
With the ambience I had built upon so much getting shattered by the unwelcome sound effect, my play did not win the first place though my heroine won the best actress award. As a consolation, my stage craft was commended by a few knowledgeable souls in the audience.