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Sultans and Soldiers: A Short Play Contest

October 25, 2023

Visiting Assistant Professor of Screenwriting & Playwriting Jeffrey Stanley, in partnership with Bangalore Little Theatre, will oversee the short play contest Sultans and Soldiers: How Two Indian Muslim Kings Energized the US Revolutionary War. Open to all undergraduate Drexel students. Prizes include gift certificates to the Drexel Bookstore and the chance for winning plays to move forward to the development stage with Drexel and Bangalore Little Theatre – with a possible future production.

Entries should address the connections between the American Revolutionary War and India, a historical story rarely told.

Simultaneous to the Revolutionary War, the British East India Company was fighting the Anglo-Mysore Wars in southern India and had allied itself with native Maratha warriors. Together they fought against native forces led by the Sultan of Mysore Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, aka “the Tiger of Mysore.” Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan’s aim was to expel the British from India and unite the Indian princely states into a single nation. In success, he would have dealt a death blow to British designs on the Indian subcontinent.

The father-son duo of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan received military assistance from the French at the same time that France was assisting George Washington’s Continental Army. The Revolutionary War’s leaders, our so-called Founding Fathers, knew about Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and vice versa through this French connection. In 1775, when our war against the British was just getting started, these two Indian rulers had already beaten the British in the First Anglo-Mysore War. By the time the British surrendered to the US in 1783, the Second Anglo-Mysore War was underway, and the British would again be defeated. After Cornwallis’ defeat against the US, he would go on to command British forces in India fighting against Tipu Sultan.

When the Revolutionary War ended, many celebrations were held throughout the colonies including one at a church in Trenton, New Jersey. This gathering saw 13 toasts being offered to the heroes who’d won the war, including one to Hyder Ali.

Short plays should gather inspiration from this history, and participants will be provided with research resources by the competition administrators. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2024.

For more information about the contest, eligibility, deadlines, and more, download this PDF.

This project, a Westphal IDEA Mini-Grant recipient, was made possible due in part to the generous support of the Philadelphia Foundation, the Westphal Dean’s Office of I.D.E.A., and the Westphal DEIC.