The National Youth Festival 2011, Udaipur, had an interstate one-act play competition as part of their events. Each state had 30 minutes to put forward their act, from which a jury would pick the winners.
The theme was left to the contesting troupes to choose. They came up with plays about the exploitation of the poor, widow remarriage, the plight of Kashmiris and other such noble thought-provoking causes. Sad soliloquies were delivered, impassioned tirades launched. No play was complete without copious shedding of tears.
Not to take away from the efforts of the young men and women who put these plays together (I’m sure some of them will make a big name for themselves in professional theatre) but it must be asked: why was there no play that could let us relax and smile, and reach for no high moral purpose? Is it that to be considered worthy of winning, it was necessary to be grave?
The answer seems to be Yes. It is a contest, the team has only limited time to make a mark. If all else is equivalent, won’t a serious play be rated over a "light" one? In all probability, it will.
And why just in theatre? Who sweeps away the trophies for Best Leading Actor in films? The guy who plays the schizophrenic, not the guy who plays the buffoon. Which book bags the Booker? The one that dwells on pain and injustice, not the one that narrates a simple romance. Which projects win the best marks in a CompSc course? The ones that describe robots to cure cancer (so what if there is no working robot), not the one that makes a live game of UNIX Solitaire [real story 🙁 ].
Does a work of art ask to be treated lightly, because its theme is light?