Dumb Charades, the marquee event of the English Literary Society, needs little explanation, if any. We have all pantomimed names of movies over family gatherings, glowing cinders of dying campfires and filled the lacunae of boring hours with the strange pleasure of guessing movies and acting them out. Let us just say, DumbC (which is how we fondly call it) is a tribute to all those fun filled moments and an attempt to relive them.
If DumbC is just your good old Dumb Charades, why does it need an introduction at all? Because DumbC has a unique structure to it. First of all, you play it in teams of three. Also it has a few rules that make it slightly more difficult than the game that the uninitiated are used to. For instance, you can’t break words or change the meaning of words while acting them out. If you were really good at guessing movie names from the ‘sounds like’ clues, you would want to adapt your style just a bit because DumbC does not allow that. You also can’t use props. So if you are acting out a colour, you can’t point to your friends’ shirt. If you want to show a wall, you can’t actually stand next to a wall and point it out. So in a way, DumbC is universal in nature; you just need your wits to play this game. Does it make DumbC too difficult to play? Well, there are ways to get around these rules, we call them conventions. Let’s just keep it at that; we will not reveal anything more about conventions.
DumbC has numerous rounds that test the various skills that a team possesses. While the first round most probably would have you guessing four items in two minutes (movies, places, personalities and books), the Blitz round is the ultimate test of speed wherein you have to act and guess truckloads of stuff in just four minutes. Triple DumbC involves three way acting and guessing, all the while being able to communicate through only gestures. And if some of your body parts are also restricted from movement, for example hands, then DumbC becomes a real test. If you can’t handle your nerves, the bidding round will give you nightmares. Because when you have to act and guess the phrase, “Elvis has left the building”, within five seconds, you have to get your act together or else risk getting an overall negative score.
These rules and rounds are standard. Once in a while, you might have some crazy rules thrown into this equation. You could be asked to participate in a Q&A session wherein you have to guess both the question and the answer or the actor from your team would have to identify the name of the song being played to him/her and act it out to the guessers simultaneously.
The act of playing charades can also be viewed in a different light. When you slow down a film and play it frame by frame, it is completely changed. You can no longer be invested in it, suspension of disbelief is harder. It gains a different meaning altogether. Similarly, by conveying something to someone else without the use of audible language, you gain a different viewpoint, a new perspective on the matter you are communicating, it gains a different meaning for you.
If after reading through all this, you feel that DumbC is serious fun, you need no more convincing. If you think that DumbC is just serious and no fun, you have no idea what is DumbC like, which is one more reason to actually find out. And if you think that DumbC is a frivolous event meant to entertain people, well, that’s what it was always meant to be.