“The interest in theatre in Chennai is seeing a sudden spike and this shows in the number of entries we have received this year. We usually only select 50 of the entries we receive. But this time we had so many entries that we had to pick 70 to be staged to give everyone a fair chance. As the number of entries are so high, we have also decided to select 11 plays for the final instead of ten.”
She adds, “Since we have a 10-minute format, it helps the writers hone their skills to write more crisp material and it also proves practical for theatre enthusiasts who want to pursue that passion part-time. In fact, there are some, like Bala (popular theatre personality), who ventured into theatre because of the festival.
We have a lot of theatre enthusiasts who have been performing at the festival for the past six years and we also have certain groups that perform exclusively for the festival.”
Jagadeesh Kanna, one of the regulars at the festival, agrees and adds, “I was inspired to adapt, Oru Cup Coffee, the play I wrote, into a short-film after I won the runner-up position at S+S in 2013. The short-film was later screened at many International festivals.
Then, in 2014, I wrote and directed a sci-fi play in Tamil titled The Door, for which I received the Best Director award at the festival and was spotted by Mike Muthu. He cast me in his play The Censored which was staged as part of World Theatre Day. It was this play that got me the offer for my first movie, Naalu Peruku Nalladhuna Edhuvum Thappilla, directed by Dinesh Selvaraj.
Later, director Rajiv Menon was impressed by my play Never Give Up which was staged at the festival in 2016, and I got to work with him as an assistant for a year. Since then, I have been cast in two more movies and I am now in the process of directing one.” His play Phoenix has been selected for the festival this year.
Another regular, Meera Sitaraman, notes, “Bala was instrumental in introducing S+S festival to me in 2012. I have been participating in the festival as an actor, writer and director, ever since. In 2014, Death of Drona, the play I directed, was selected for the finals.
For younger people like me who are still trying to establish themselves, the platform is like a T20 match — a place where new talents get to experiment with a shorter format before advancing to the next level.”