Sunday, April 4, 2010


The most carefree times in my life were when I was a school teacher for eighth graders. The really funny times were when as an English teacher I was given charge of the play for the school day.
Once I wrote a simple script titled "Ulysses” and got the approval of my head, the effervescent and encouraging Revathi Krishnamurthy. I let it out in class that I needed a lot of people for the English play, for acting as well as for playing making props, like a cave, swords and sack clothing. Bhuvanesh, who was quick to realize that this was a chance to get away from regular class turned to his neighbour Prabhu and wised him up. Soon I had nine boys, all ready to participate. It was an enthusiastic crowd. They made swords from thermocol, fought with them pretending to practise and broke them into pieces. This stopped after I got them to pay for fresh materials.
The problem was to identify someone to play Ulysses. All the boys in the class were skinny and sported the blank expression characteristic of boys of thirteen. Prabu Prasanna seemed to be the better looking of the lot but I was not totally satisfied. I scanned the rows of faces in the school assembly. Then i spotted the clear wide brow, the broad erect shoulders, the way Karthik priya held her chin, parellel to the ground and looked straight ahead. She looked like a leader. Yes, this tall athletic girl from class nine looked more like Ulysses than any of the boys.
The boys of course, looked at me crossly when I brought her for the practice. How could I select a girl to be the hero when there were so many boys around. I ignored them and we got on with the rehearsals. The play turned into an action packed one, with lots of movement and one liners!
One year we did Puss in Boots! It was one of my favorites and there was lot of color and action and masks and music in the play. The only problem was that none of the girls were ready to play the princess whom the hero wins in the last few minutes of the play. So I made a secret pact with Ram Prabhu, a small made boy from class XI, that he need not attend rehearsals as he had no dialogue or part in the action, but that he should wear a dress and veil and appear on stage as the princess and no one ever need know who played the part. He was sportive about it and the whole cast was surprised when he appeared in the make up room and wore the dress just a few seconds before the play.
I have many such stories to write about.


BALA said...

Glad to read about your transvestite adventures with your school students. Grab a copy of Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy and read the first story 'Pigs can't Fly' to know more of a transvestite boy. I enjoy reading your post and i request you to do more such postings.


Raji said...

thanks bala

Harini Padmanabhan said...

You dint mention breaking a poor boy's cap on his head after midsummer night's dream