Professor writes a play on marriage, Indian-style


Love and marriage, it's an institute you can't disparage.

Not even in "Arranged Marriage," a two-act drama that will be performed at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Anne Arundel Community College.

Dr. Shree Iyengar, a chemistry professor at the college and the playwright, said his work looks at Indian arranged marriages and marriages that occur out of love, showing how both can be acceptable.

"It's still pretty much a contemporary issue in India," said Mr. Iyengar, a native of Madras in southeast India. "But what's really important is the love and the commitment we put into the marriage."

While it is still traditional in India for parents to arrange marriages for children as young as 2-years-old, many youths in the country's larger cities want to choose their own spouses, Mr. Iyengar said.

His play, written during the summer, centers around Sanjay, an Indian native studying at an American college, and Tiffany, the American girl with whom he has fallen in love.

They have decided to marry, but Sanjay's roommate, Mohan, who is played by the professor, wants to become an American citizen by marrying Tiffany.

Mr. Iyengar, who also directs and produces the performance, said the idea for his first English play came about through watching some of the cultural trends of Indians in America.

As Indian citizens have migrated to the United States, interracial marriages have become more and more common, making them "an important component of Indian life here," he said.

The play touches on some of the psychological and cultural aspects of interracial marriages, which sometimes include cutting the ties of the native language.

"This is a chance to bring something of Indian culture to the Annapolis community," he said.

Mr. Iyengar wrote the two-hour play in about two months. He and the nine other members of the cast in the S. G. Theatre Group have been rehearsing for the past eight to 10 weeks.

Last Saturday, the play opened to an audience of more than 150 people at the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Greenbelt. The performance was a fund-raiser, Mr. Iyengar said.

Proceeds from the performance at AACC's Pascal Center will benefit a college scholarship fund.

Before penning "Arranged Marriage," Mr. Iyengar wrote several plays, short stories and one mystery novel in Tamil, his native language.

Though some may not see a link between the science of ionic bonds and the craft of character development, Mr. Iyengar said it all depends on your point of view.

"Science is also an art," he said. "There's room for a lot of imagination in both."

He hopes to combine the two in a play that will be written to get young children excited about science.

He also hopes to feature the characters of Mahatma Ghandi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a play about violence in America.

Tickets for "Arranged Marriage" are $7 for general admission, $5 for AACC students.

For more information, call 541-2546, or 541-2218.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad