On 3 December 2016, Sree Sankara College Kalady witnessed an innovative theatrical presentation by a single man, synthesising the spirit of the theatre and the classroom. This man plus passion and the Elizabethan theatrical ambience added up to the exploration of new vistas of learning by deconstructing every existing trait of conventional classrooms. It gave the students a learning experience like never before. It was Dr C. K. Sujeesh, Associate Professor of English, Sree Sankara College Kalady, who single-handedly presented the legendary Shakespeare’s most voluminous play Hamlet, for the postgraduate students from various campuses, from three universities in the State. All alone, he portrayed seventeen characters of the play, giving a complete idea of the play to the students. The audience was elevated to a level, where the play before their eyes takes shape in their minds too.
More than seventy students and members of the faculty from twelve colleges came to experience the unique teaching-learning technique innovated and developed by Renaissance. Synergy: The Classroom Theatre which Renaissance launched in 2007 is an innovative teaching-learning method, which effects a synthesis of the energies of the two vibrant spaces – the classroom and the theatre. It interweaves enacting and analysis throughout the session. Though the Synergy presentation is intended for capturing the vibrancy of theatre experience in its pristine form, Synergy keeps its distance from the conventional theatrical tools like lightings, properties and background scores and even textbooks as well. In the ordinary classroom, an imaginary theatrical space gets created.
Though many movies, with subtitles, on Hamlet are available on the internet, the young scholars from various universities show a keen interest to participate in the Synergy sessions of Dr Sujeesh which are held in ordinary classrooms with a few desks and benches. This year also, Team Renaissance is overwhelmed by the rush in registration for participation. Since the total number of the participants is to be around forty for its efficacy, the event was made exclusively open to the postgraduate students of English, restricting four from one institution. A few students from other disciplines, who struggled to get registration, also enjoyed William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. These students from subjects like Chemistry, Commerce, and Biotechnology were wonderstruck by the power and reach of the play Hamlet, which reminded us of the fact that Shakespeare wrote and presented plays for all types of people, and not for the scholars of English literature.
The classroom theatre on Hamlet which brought together theatre and classroom, for five hours, succeeded in bringing the minds of the students closer to Shakespeare and theatrical experience at its unhampered form and helped them achieve a better understanding and appreciation of the play. The session was attended participants from Baselius College, Kottayam; CMS College, Kottayam; School of Letters, Athirampuzha; Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam; M. E. S. College, Marampally; St Peter’s College, Kolenchery; Sree Sankara College, Kalady; Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady; Marthoma College, Perumbavoor, Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, N. S. S. College, Ottappalam, and N. S. S. College, Manjery. Synergy: The Classroom Theatre was inaugurated by Dr K A Ajithkumar, Principal of Sree Sankara College Kalady.
Dr C. K. Sujeesh is also one of the coordinators of Renaissance, Centre for Research Extension and studies in Literature and Arts which started functioning in 2003 the Golden Jubilee year of the College. He had also presented the plays Naagamandala, The Fire and the Rain and Hayavadana by Girish Karnad; The Merchant of Venice and The Temptest by Shakespeare, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, Emperor Jones by Eugene O’ Neil, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and Caligula by Albert Camus. The Synergy presentation on Hamlet was coordinated by Prof. Sreedevi N.S. and Adityan S., both the members of the Renaissance Family. The other members of the team are Paul Shaju, Ajesh A. R., Aswin M.K., Vallinayakam M., Maria Francis, Aryalakshmi, Maneesha Madhavan, Archana G, and Abhijith S.
Renaissance has a legacy of 12 years with many short films, documentaries and many more activities alongside the theatrical performances. The Centre, which has the motto – study and serve – conducts training sessions and workshops in other schools and colleges.