The Bard said ‘All world is a stage’; these techies of Manch Theatre believe at least Hyderabad is so. Run by a few tech professionals, Manch started as a Hobby Club, and with their long hours of practice, it grew from one success to the next. Manch is Hindi for stage. Their Facebook page says they are The Theatre Group at Infosys Hyd; Riyaz Usman tells us what more Manch is.
Techgoss (TG): Tell us about Manch
Riyaz Usman (RU): Manch was born as a hobby club at Infosys Hyderabad. A few techies with a common passion, theatre, and Manch happened. While the early efforts on Manch was purely intended on having some fun time outside work hours, the productions were also of that nature. We did small skits, mimes, comedy plays for the internal audience inside Infosys. Slowly the club went into hibernation as the folks associated with the club went away – some moved out of the company, some travelled to other locations, and the rest got too busy. After numerous attempts Manch started breathing again by early 2010, and came back stronger than before – creating a niche on itself among the theatre goers in Hyderabad.
TG: How do rehearsals fit in to your schedule?
RU: As mentioned earlier, Manch is full of folks whose theatre craziness extends from post-work-hours to wee-hours-in-night to all hours in weekends. When a production is announced, the regular rehearsals happen outside the work hours. Closer to the production dates it will go into weekends and night outs.
TG: How does your office take your hobby? Is there enough encouragement from the techie honchos and companies to go on with steam? How do the other team members deal with the play in their work life?
RU: The response from fellow spectators has always been overwhelming. While not in a streamlined manner, the company also promotes these activities. And for others, I guess having a platform to continue what they loved help to negate the stress associated with the day job. Most of us look forward to these practice sessions and productions. While they have its own pressure associated with it, everyone enjoys it.
TG: How do you manage the PR part of your stages?
RU: A socially connected world really helps. Most of the marketing is done online, through communities on Facebook, Groups etc. The campus has a strong online discussion board too. Not to ignore the word of mouth publicity. Having loyal audience is one of the most important parts.
TG: Could you quote an incident which you all hold dear, in connection with your Manch association?
RU: There are many. But if I have to pick up one, it would be our first performance outside for a competition. As a part of the annual IT cultural fest in Hyderabad 2010, Manch had staged two short plays, and won the first prize. The environment was electrifying and terrific, when everyone felt the sense of achievement and being a team for the first time. But if you ask me, what I hold dear is the continuous feeling that this group is not just a bunch of likeminded people with similar interest – but a family.
TG: What next?
RU: Bigger. Bolder. Better. We would love to go out of Hyderabad for performances. We would love to do productions at a much larger scale but at any point of time, without compromising on quality. The intention is to bring back the charm of storytelling on stage.