The Semiotics Of Theatre

Mathangi Mahesh Kumar, III year B.A. English

Image credits Anushree Chacko, III Year B. A. English

The Department of English, Stella Maris College, in collaboration with the Department of English, Madras Christian College (MCC), conducted a lecture on the 13th of July titled ‘The Semiotics of Theatre’ by Professor K. Ganesh, Head of the Department of English, Madras Christian College.

The welcome address was delivered by Dr. Miruna George, Head of the Department of English, Stella Maris College who stated that the lecture was also conducted to honor and acknowledge Professor Mangai’s contribution to her work.
The students of MCC, along with a couple of students from Madras University, performed a modern reinterpretation of the Greek classic ‘Antigone’, directed by Professor David Wesley of Madras Christian College. The students assumed different roles and, without the use of props or bold costumes, there was a stark portrayal of defiance and defeat in this play. With the melodious notes, sung by a student from Madras University, a melancholic mood set in as the play drew to a tragic yet magnificent end.

As the rest of the students watched in awe at the performance, it could be easily determined that the emotions, the gestures and the voice modulations truly captured the audience.
Professor Ganesh, then, began his interesting presentation centered on the concept of Theatre as a sign system’, ‘spectator dialects’ and ‘stage-centered reading. With these key elements highlighted in the seminar, the program concluded with the vote of thanks.

Book Recommendations

-Lourdes Trini Sneha. L, II Year B. Com

If there is one thing bibliophiles love, it’s book recommendations. I feel infinitely grateful when someone suggests a book or relays information about the book. So I thought, ‘Why not recommend some books to our Stella Maris bibliophiles’ community and share the joy of reading and penmanship?’
The order of these books is neither ranked nor grouped under genres. They are just random books that I consider mind-blowing. Here are 3 books that I would like to talk about:

1. FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell:book recommendation 1

This was absolutely a delight to read. This story revolves around Cath who is a huge fan of the Simon Snow series along with her twin sister Wren. However, when they go into university, things change for them and it seems to Cath that Wren is slowly falling out of their fandom life. All Cath wants is to bundle up in her dorm room and write fanfiction, but so many changes get hurled at her, especially the ever-handsome Levi. The book deals with the question of how Cath is going to adapt to her new life. This book made me squeal a lot to be very honest.

2. AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie

book recommendation 2

If Fangirl was about family, romance and fandom life, this book is about everything else but those. Clearly, Christie is the queen of mystery (even the book cover says so) and is one of my favourite authors of all time. Though all her books are really neat and clever, And Then There None really takes the spotlight. I would actually blabber on all day about this book, play and the movie that came out in 1945, but for the sake of making it short, I shall condense everything. I don’t want to give away anything about this book. Just trust me and read this book, and you will know why I adore this particular work of Christie.

3.  ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes:

book recommendation 3

Me Before You is definitely one of those books which touches you emotionally and leaves you questioning your decision of picking it up. All the characters in this book will make you fall for them (maybe except Patrick). It neither romanticises illness like many other books normally lean towards nor does it give you the ending you actually want. But reading this book made me feel a lot of things all at one time and I hope you’ll feel the same.

The Final Formality

– V. Madhuri Lalwani, I Year B.A. English

 

I didn’t ask for it,
surely not a monotonic funeral
we’re all destined to,
I don’t deserve it.

They visited with sad faces,
were they truly sad,
or were they conscious of my corpse too?
I was unsure.

Dropped the same flowers,
the cheapest the florist sold,
did the price matter?
I was unsure.

Flooded my betrayal
with frowns.
Did my ruins call for it?
They were unsure.

It’s all about the norms.
All the damn time.

They spoke the last words,
no, I don’t expect them to visit again.
Well, you know, I’ve crossed
the stage of expectations.

I could have appreciated
an honest gathering-
with little or nothing,
even silence could
have done.
But not the formality.

And to them,
so swift and meaningless,
vanishing into dust.
My words,
didn’t matter now.

Did they ever?

School vs. College: A Comparison of the Two Phases Of Life

Pushpamithra, I Year B.A.English

 

For students from state board, college studies may seem like alien territory. Analysis is a word that has to be added to our vocabulary/dictionary. All we had to do until now was to know every single word in our some-hundred pages textbooks and we’re all set to go. Exams would be a walk in the park. But in college, we need to understand everything and read extensively from other books by ourselves. There is also something known as a ‘seminar’ to look out for. Talking in front of a class is a hard task for some, but doing something similar to taking a class? It is a Himalayan task.

Unlike the dreadful 8 or 9 hours in school (not including the special classes which we love), college has only 5 hours! Who wouldn’t like that? One of the things we’d probably miss is the lunch break fun with friends. Even that can be solved by bringing food or going to the canteen (where finding places to sit is tougher than finding your missing socks sometimes). During those times you can say, “The outdoor breeze is nice” and have an outdoor picnic with your friends.

The activities are completely different. When I first heard of Value Education, all I could think was, “What is that?”. Maybe others had it but we sure didn’t. The most we got was 20 minutes of bhajans every Thursday through a speaker that never worked. Remedial hour is bliss. We can do what we want (within the rules) and be free unlike the free periods we had in school where we’d have an eagle watching over us.

The library is one of the most awesome things in college. Of course, our school had a library which had a lot of books but here, we can actually read the books and borrow them if we want!

College is often said to be a continuation of school and I realised that it is! It is very different compared to school but some of the major aspects like studies have not changed. Some of the differences when comparing them are the classes, learning method, timings and activities.

The downside? It could get a bit monotonous sometimes. But the downsides are fewer when compared to the upsides.

Movie Review: To The Bone

What bones are made of
– Mathangi Mahesh Kumar, III year B.A. English

When was the last time you laughed out loud and still bawled your eyes out through a movie about Anorexia and felt liberated at the end of it?

Probably never, right?

‘To The Bone’ is a movie about twenty year old Ellen who can tell you the exact number of calories in her food, who smokes like a chimney and chews her food only to spit it back out into a napkin. She has an absent father, an over indulgent step mother, a lesbian mother and a step sister for a best friend.

This isn’t your intense clichéd drama movie about a woman who starves herself and eventually gets over it during the course of a peppy song. No. The main plot is about Ellen and her struggle to find stability – something she has never found in her dysfunctional family or through her art. Ellen’s depression is not the curl-up-into-a-ball-and-wallow-in-sadness type; It is raw, real and comes out through her cynical humor, pessimistic view of life and is also physically reflected in her body.

While Anorexia is commonly treated as a physical disability, the movie chooses to be different and perceives it as a mental illness with a physical manifestation. The movie retains the echoes of the psychological trauma that Anorexic individuals undergo: What does one do when starving yourself is an addiction that you cannot break free of?

“Coward” is what Luke, a fellow in patient, calls Ellen when she refuses to eat even a tiny piece of chocolate. In a manner, the movie also reflects Ellen’s pursuit of courage to break free of her addiction. The idea of possessing an Identity and more importantly, the yearning to possess one are also two overlapping themes that provide a loose backdrop to Ellen’s fight against Anorexia. Ellen harbors the illusion that there is light at the end of the tunnel: a focal point that would provide purpose to her existence. She tries to find this purpose through her art but gives it up when it leads to the suicide of a young woman. She constantly finds herself at a cross roads where walking down ‘Giving Up’ street, towards the end, feels easier.

As an individual without eating disorders, it is impossible to imagine that chewing, the most natural and mundane of human activities, could ever be a difficult task that takes tremendous effort. But when one sees Lilly Collins refusing to even nibble on chocolate, it is as real and heartbreaking as it gets.

While on the subject of Collins, who struggled with eating disorders herself, one has to marvel at the manner in which she brings Ellen to life. Ellen’s cyclical humor and spontaneous anger aren’t the only aspects she captures with ease; she also embraces the reality of this character: pale skin, skinny bones, baggy clothes and baggier eyes. Collins’ physical transformation to fit the role of an undernourished girl fighting against an eating disorder and her identity crisis does not go unnoticed. While on screen, Collins makes you forget that the person is a celebrity, but just a woman, with just as much flesh and bone as the next person, with a dark cloud hanging over her head.

Real, with a sprinkle of laughter and a dash of sniffly tears to the side, is what I have to say about this movie.

So the next time you are in the mood for something emotionally taxing yet absolutely lovely, grab your tissues and get straight to the bone of things.

The Lights

– A. Hanaa Mariam, I Year B.A. English

 

Seated in a parked car,

I look out the window.

In the distance, I see the lights glow

Each in their own shining colours

Some patterned, some alone – dancing, swaying,

Beckoning me onward – inviting me to enter

Their Royal Court.

Each court with its light has something to give

Each trying to be more spectacular than the other,

Hypnotising me with a plethora of choices.

Tempted, I reach out and try to enter

But, O, those lights

They look beautiful from afar

But when you get too close

Their reality is all too clear.

For had I entered any of the light’s realm

I would have been sucked into a land of deception.

So for once I am happy

That I stayed back – away from the hustle and bustle

Away from the honking and yelling

Away from the madness and disappointment

Away, in my car.

Stella, Student, Woman; The Effects Of GST

Pros and Cons – An Introduction To GST

–  Swetha R, I Year B.A.English

The Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, said that GST stood for ‘Great Step by Team India’, ‘Great Step towards Transformation’ and ‘Great Steps towards Transparency. So what exactly is GST and what does it mean for the common man?

GST stands for Goods and Service Tax. It is the tax that is common to all states of India instead of the different taxes imposed by the Central government and the different state governments. For example, a Banarasi sari costs less in Uttar Pradesh whereas its price is increased by a minimum of 15% when the same is bought in Tamil Nadu due to several factors like transportation cost and the tax levied by the Government.

The GST, if applied properly, will ideally curb black money circulation as anything bought or sold must have a proper bill. It will also promote equality among the states, as before GST, the people in producer states paid less money as tax than those in consumer states and this created a disparity between them. Now, all states will have to pay the same for whatever goods they use. GST, in ideal situations, is transparent, simple and is a right step in the direction of growth as a nation.

But on the downside, services like banking, telecom and airlines will become more expensive. Even though the tax has to be paid by manufacturers and sellers alike, the ultimate burden will fall on the consumers.

Is GST going to be a really good move for the development of our country or a huge misfortune which is going to affect India?

Being Stella, Student, Woman – The Effects of GST

                                  – Pradeksha Sethupathi, III Year B.A. Economics
No! Please don’t skip this article. I’m neither for nor against it. I am not going to educate you on the intricate formulas to calculate the tax, either. I assure you, this is merely an armchair investigation on how this ‘reform’(mind you; the quotes don’t  reflect any opinion), launched on the midnight of 30 June 2017, can affect a 19 year old Stella Maris student who was probably preoccupied with the fact that Saturday was a working day.

Living in the microcosm of the Stella campus, one can easily miss the immediately visible signs of the implementation of the tax that can be witnessed elsewhere, that began with clearance of existing stock of goods at discount followed by a period of scarcity before the stock arrived, marked with the  increased prices. This is because the price of food items that were prepared in the mess was increased by an average of 5 rupees at the beginning of the year.  The healthy packed snacks that are sold at the canteen seem to be largely unaffected by it.

Outside Stella life as a college student, one can feel a major impact; emotional impact if I may be more specific, when we go to watch a movie. The shutting down of theatres for almost a week resulted in a literal outcry from college students, embers of which still flicker inside as we pay 153 rupees per ticket for a forgettable movie like Spiderman: Homecoming. The only consolation is that the Sathyam popcorn still costs the same.

However, on a larger scale, GST has impacted us women on this one particular issue – the fact that we are that biological sex that happens to bleed every month. Under the new GST regime, sanitary napkins, which were earlier taxed at 13.68% (6% excise duty and 5% VAT), have now been categorized under the 12% tax slab. The government has vehemently defended this move, stating that since some of the materials used to make them, like super absorbent polymer, are taxed at 18%, reducing the tax or making it nil will result in local manufacturers losing out to imports since they still would have to incur some administrative costs that the imports would not. However, contrary views exist that since cotton is the main raw material used (whose tax rate is 5%), these local manufacturers would not be majorly affected.

The one undisputable fact that stands at the end of this debate is that once again, we have managed not to focus on issues that matter the most.

The End Of The Black Moss

– Riya Nagendra , I Year B.A English

Doom is to come –
It will soon be gone –
This smelly thing
With sweat latched on.

This black mass,
This monster,
It may not trouble YOU,
But, I, on seeing it,
Do heave a sigh –
It just will not do.

I have had enough –
Time to rein it in!
Time to bring it down!
This overgrown bush that makes me frown.

Ah! This blasted, unsightly,
Downright ghastly
Thing I cannot bear!

I have a demon to slay,
And so I say,
Time to shave my armpit hair!

Chennai Rainbow Pride Parade 2017

Gaayathri Sukantha Murugan, I Year B.V.A
Image: Ram, with his parents

June is celebrated worldwide as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride month, in order to commemorate the Stonewall riots which were a series of violent demonstrations by the LGBT community against a police raid in 1969 at Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.
This was seen as the most important event for gay liberation movements, and the fight for LGBT rights.

The Chennai Rainbow Pride Parade is a Pride march that has been happening since 2009, that celebrates the LGBT community. This year, the Pride march in Chennai, organized by the Tamil Nadu Rainbow Coalition, took place on June 25th. It began from Rajarathinam Stadium, Egmore, from where we marched to Langs Garden Road, where a stage had been set up at the end of the march.
Apart from shouting slogans about how there’s nothing wrong with belonging to the community, that we need more support, and that we could gather more people if needed in order to decriminalise Article 377, there were also people who had written about what it means to be a part of the LGBT community.

Everyone was dressed colourfully and there was a lot of cheering and festivity. Some held small Pride flags, and others held up posters, banners and slogans. People of different genders and sexual identities were present at the Parade.

Being the first Pride that I attended, it was wonderful. I never expected so many people to be there. There was a small part of me that was afraid that something bad might happen, but the whole event went smoothly. Some of them shared their experiences and Sarvesh said, “I was fascinated to see people dancing, singing and getting their faces painted. It was like a carnival, and it should have been a normal thing. ‘Meet more people. Stay happy and carefree. Be colourful.’ If only it gets across to the ears that matter.”

Ram, another participant, spoke vividly of his mother being the first person to tell him that he was gay, and was draped in his mother’s saree. “This was the first and only Pride walk that I’ve marched with my parents. My dad was there, supporting me, and I was carrying my mom’s picture in her honor. Last year, there were very few people who turned up. So it was good to see about 300 people turning up for the Pride.”

The vibe, the large turnout and the “feeling of togetherness”, while also staying true to their individuality was what made it truly memorable. As people walked around with badges saying, ‘I don’t even think straight’ with rainbows, the air was filled with excitement.
Aruna, a supporter, was taken aback by the love and acceptance as she said, “It was great to see that Indian LGBT+ people actually exist, especially when a large part of society acts like they’re invisible.”

The sense of inclusivity towards the LGBTQ+ spectrum was indicative of the distance covered, and a reminder of the miles still left. “The fact that I, a 16 year old girl, could march among hundreds of people who were spilling onto the streets, without fear, says a lot about one of the most stigmatised and ostracised communities of the society,” says Smrithi, another supporter.

All these voices, amongst many more, were heard in this year’s Pride Parade, and this sense of acceptance should be enough to make us “break the status quo”, love and live as we wish, and most importantly, be proud of it.

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