Friday, April 18, 2008

Kavalam Turns 80

Kavalam Narayana Panicker, the doyen of Kerala theatre turns 80 tomorrow. To pay tribute to his artistic Endeavour to theatre in specific and culture in total, his friends and admirers are organising a celebration in Thiruvanathapuram.

There will be a seminar which places his contribution to Indian theatre, a photo exhibition on Kerala Theatre, a function to honour him, performance of plays written and directed by him and more , in the 3 day celebrations. Nedumudi venu and Kavalam’s old disciples along with new thespians of Sopanam will be performing the much celebrated play Avananavan Kadampa penned by him and directed by late G.Aravindan.

I am reminded of my earlier days in Theatre where I am astonished by the strength, beauty and possibilities of indigenous theatre, when I watched Avanavan kadampa at the Boys High School ground in Kuravilangad- my home village- in 1997. The best of acting I have ever seen in my life from Nedumudi Venu (in stage and films) is as pattuparisha trying to court Chithira pennu the heroine of the play. The other cast included late Gopi, Jagannathan, late Krishnankutty Nair, Gopalakrishnan, Late Nattuvan paramasivam etc... I am to revisit those memories when I will be watching kadampa on this 20th in Trivandrum.

The theatre of Kerala and mine is connected with the works of Kavalam. Personally my first ever play (acting and directing) is Ottayan written by Kavalam, which physically launched me in theatre. Later I directed Poranadi written by him which turned out to be one of my best productions. The production of Lokadharmi was attempting to see poranadi from the cultural-political perspective on the evolution of Kerala society. It was about the human sacrifices done for the benefit of the village community and also to eliminate the uprising of a hero from the lower cast who may grow to question and thwart the existing power structure… The myth is suggestive and it expose the hypocrisy of those in power and their heinous means to stick to it. A state derives its strength not form the upper strata, but from the lowest, however rude or crude they be. For the king the bali is only an anushtana-a ritual, but for Pokkan it is ninam- a bath in blood, an act of self-dedication.

And I have started rehearsing another play written by Kavalam, Karimkutty which can be read a sequel to Poranadi.

Always the works of Kavalam was a reference point from which my theatre starts, develops and grows. The many hours I spent with him talking about theatre have been immense source of inspiration.

I remember my first journey abroad with the Malayalam adaptation of the play Medea by Euripides. After reaching Athens to take part in the International Festival on Ancient Greek drama 2001, we were taken through a long road journey to the city Kalamatta where our first show was scheduled. At late night 11.00 clock Tchakiris, the festival director and who himself is a director of plays was waiting to receive us in the front lawn of the hotel. The first thing he asked me was about Kavalam and he sang two lines in Malayalam starting “Maharaja, Maharaja …” along with drumming on the table. This line was from the Malayalam adaptation of Prometheus done by Kavalam, and he started speaking in length about the poetic heights of the Kavalam’s adaptation of the Greek play and its appropriateness. I was so happy to tell him back that Kavalam is one of my gurus.

4 comments:

Shobha said...

Hello Chandradasan,

Wish you good luck with your new blog.

It is very hard to get materials about Kerala/Indian Theatre in net and I am sure your blog will fill up those gaps.

Looking forward to see more of your writings...

A Great Happy B’ day wishes to Theatre Maestro KN Panicker!

Thanks and Best Regards,
Shobha

ಹೊನ್ನಾಳಿ ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ್ said...

Hello sir,

Welcome to bloger's world.

kavalam maintained a very good relation with kannada theatre also. he is a inspiration not only in kerala, for us also.

Very best wishes to Kavalam on his birth day.

Honnali Chandrashekhar

L. T. said...

Chandradasan, your piece here on Kavalam is a profound contribution to the general discourse on world theatre, and it is a pleasure to learn about a master who influenced your own masterful work. Please keep talking about the beauty of indigenous theatre in it own context, at the same time helping us by making the cultural translation we need to understand such theatre from overseas.

I hope you will let the best cultural sites know of your new blog and let them carry your link so as many people as possible will know of it.

It is a privilege to hear more about your work and the ideas behind it, and I know your writings here will be an excellent resource for the fans you keep earning around the world.

Love,

Lissa
--
Lissa Tyler Renaud
Actors' Training Project
Oakland, California, USA

Anjana Jayasankar said...

Hello Sir,

I just saw this post today while browsing.I would like to point out Shri Nattuvan Paramasiva Menon is still alive. You had mentioned him as Late. Please do rectify this.