The 16th Annual Cultural Evening Of North South University
Tamoha Binte Siddiqui
North South University Shangshkritik Shangathan (NSUSS) organised the much awaited 16th Annual Cultural Evening (ACE) of North South University (NSU) in the Plaza of the university's own campus in Bashundhara on the 26-27 November. Each year, NSUSS tries to showcase the immense talent and creativity of the NSU students through this show, and this year was no different. The programme, which was based on the theme of Mukhosh or Mask, tried to depict how in the modern times people lose their very beings and existence behind the numerous masks that they have to wear in order to function in the society. This was done by the use of a touching play, which traced the progress of a NSU student through the four years of graduation. Apart from the play, quite a few heart-warming songs, a number of memorable dance sequences, and a humorous NSU News session were also incorporated into the show in order to entertain the audience to the fullest.
The play began with the portrayal of a nightmare as seen by the main protagonist in which he is surrounded and smothered by masked demons. The scene was short, yet highly engaging, and hence got the audience hooked right away. In the following scenes, we get to learn more about this young, happy-go-lucky and love-struck protagonist who is a student of NSU. We see how the protagonist passes his time in a laid-back and leisurely manner as he manipulates others around him to get his daily assignments and projects done. He is also seen as being a romantic at heart who wants to spend a lot of time with his love interest. Mid way through, however, the comic and casual tone of the play changes to a somber and more realistic one. We watch the protagonist slowly getting burdened under the responsibilities thrust upon him due to his part time job, studies, and also due to his loved ones. Slowly, a deeper and more serious side of the character is revealed, a side the character had hidden all these years behind layers of masks. We see that behind the mask of a carefree and fun-loving boy, there lives a boy whose mother is still under the delusion of his father being alive, a boy who is struggling hard to juggle his studies and at the same time trying to make a living out of his part-time job. Little by little, the boy loses himself behind the different masks he wears in front of his teachers, his boss, his friends, his girlfriend, and even his mother, and slowly the meaning of his very existence is lost. The play was punctuated with the appearance of the anchor, who came in between scenes to explain to the audience the significance of hiding behind the masks, and the bitter state humanity has reached due to this.
In addition, between the scenes of the play, a number of dance routines as well as songs were staged related to the situation of the play. Among the songs, Katakuti, Din Bari Jay, Duranta Ghurni, One Last Breath, and Pothchola were received with great enthusiasm, as the crowd sang and clapped along with the tunes. On the other hand, songs such as Bango, Shohoj Manush, and Chithi Pathao mesmerised the audience as the singers showcased their highly developed vocal skills through these songs. The song Shopner Cheo Modhur was beautifully sung by one of the singers as the background track to one of the dance items.
The dance sequences performed by the NSUSS dancers in each and every ACE do not fail to amaze the audience, as the choreography always involves a new element to surprise the audience, whether it is fire-spinning or blindfolds or something else. This year also, the choreographies followed the tradition. The first dance sequence, which was partly a shadow dance, depicted the story of a boy dreaming of his ever-elusive dream girl. The first part of the dance consisted of the shadows of the boy and the girl dancing on a big white screen placed on the stage. Half way through, the shadow of the girl slips away from the boy. The boy, in desperate search of the girl, has to step out from behind the screen and into the open stage. After a few moments of tireless searching, the dream girl makes an appearance in flesh and bone. A few pleasant moments pass between the boy and the girl dancing away on stage before she leaves him again to continue his heart-broken search. Thunderous applause followed this contemporary dance sequence, which will remain alive in the memory of each and every member of the audience for a long time. The next dance consisted of a slick and suave choreography performed by a group of black and white suit clad boys with black bowler hats. The Hollywood silver-screen look was used to carry off a jazz routine depicting the change in the main protagonist from a casual teenager to a white-collared corporate pawn. The last dance routine was performed by a group of dancers who had to flaunt their unbelievable gymnastic skills at their level best. Here also, a new element of fluorescent costumes played a part. At one point of the dance, the dancers became invisible in the dark stage and only their glowing costumes could be seen dancing eerily on stage! The audience really was blown away by this routine!
A short NSU News session was also featured. Different complaints of the NSU students about the campus, the computer labs, the cafeteria etc. were upheld in the skit in an ironic and humorous tone. Very soon, it had several members of the audience falling off their chairs laughing! A few serious issues, such as the food wasted in the cafeteria and the importance of having a Bangladeshi flag waving high and proud in the NSU campus, were also touched upon.
Although the clichéd lines by William Shakespeare, “For all the world's a stage, and we are all merely actors” applies to all of us as we do act and hide behind our masks in order to survive in life, we should make sure that we don't lose ourselves behind these masks, and retain our personalities, dreams and hopes. This message was clearly delivered in the 16th ACE of NSU. Undoubtedly, 16th ACE will go down as one of the best ACEs in the history of NSU.
(The writer is a student of the Department of English, North South University)