Saturday, September 26, 2009

Premiere of Abhayarthikal (Refugees) on 3rd and 5th October.

My new play Abhayarthikal by G.Sankara Pillai is premiered on the 3rd and 5th of October at Changampuzha park Edappalli, at 6.30 pm. The play spotlights on the disintegration on the social structure based on the notion of a ‘happy family’ which is truly based on a heap of lies and betrayals. The play has parallels with Ibsen’s Dolls House and its philosophy.


g sankarapilaa

Prof. G.Sankara Pillai was one of the most versatile and towering personalities of Indian literature and the theatre scene. Belonging to a generation of eminent Malayalam writers deeply rooted in the rich soil of Kerala, he ascended great heights and imbibed the cultures of other regions. A pathfinder and leader of great stature, he was committed to create bridges between the theatre of the Earth and Contemporary sensibility through his writings, theatre direction and teaching. He initiated a new movement in Kerala and elsewhere.

He was a pioneer of experimental Malayalam theatre and founder member of the Nataka Kalari movement and later the founder director of the School of Drama at Calicut University in 1977. He combined in him several roles such as playwright, actor, director, theatre historian, orator, writer, and trainer of theatre enthusiasts, folklore researcher, and editor. He became a prophet of the Malayalam theatre heralding a new era in theatre practices, play-writing and play appreciation.

Prof. Sankara Pillai was Chairman of the Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi, and recipient of several national and international awards.
G. Sankara Pillai’s main plays include Snehadutan, Vivaham Svargattil, Mrigathrushna, Puja-muri, Bharata vakyam, Bandi, Manaltharikal, Avataranam Bhrantalayam, Karutta Daivatte Tedi, and Kiratam.


Abhayarthikal (Refugees) is a play written by G. Sankara Pillai in 1965 that is rarely performed.

Three different plots interwoven in this play depicts the social situation and concerns of the Kerala society of that period. The arrangement and structure of the play looks realistic in nature; but realism transcends to deeper layers of understanding about human condition and life.

The play is set in a village railway station in the darkness of a night. All the characters are waiting for a train to come for various reasons.

The play looks into the refugee in every human and the sense of insecurity irrespective of ‘having a home’. There is a socio-political rationale that exemplifies the story. The play hints on the breaking up and disintegration of the social structure based on solid families. Janaki, the heroine, breaks the family and comes out. The encounter between Janaki and her husband in the final sequence is eloquent enough to suggest the falsity of the concept of a smooth and enduring family set up. This unit reminds on the parallels between Nora in Ibsen’s Doll’s House with Janaki. Towards the end, in both the plays, the wife talks directly into the face of the husband for the first time in their life, and dare to break out of the marital bondage to ascertain freedom. In both the plays the husbands are shocked and plead their wives to return to the warmth and safety of the home, which the woman denies and walks out.

There economic reasons for this social transition is evident. The porter married his daughter to a better alliance on financial reasons. Appu, the son of the old man has to join the army who is eventually killed, is also out of economic compulsions. The peddler of country-liquor and the ‘leader’ are also the outcome of the deplorable economic and social situation. The reason for the refugees to migrate to an alien land may also be the lack of survival prospective in their birthplace.

The most important presence in the play is that of the refugees- the metaphors in the text and performance; the links and threads that connect the refugees and the characters of the play are attempted in the production. Their presence, song and utterances in gibberish adds to the meaning of the play.

There is a mystical and philosophical component in being a refugee. A refugee is almost a gypsy, a group of people sharing the space, sufferings and possibilities; but not bonded to each other strongly as in a conventional family; they may be blood- relatives, or unfamiliar and has come together on the demand of time and state of affairs -- a group of people abandoned and living together with its own laws of ethics and customs. They live in temporary arrangements and are always in a threshold to move and that gives immense freedom to make life lighter for them.

We could observe the same slackening of bonds in present day families too, where migration is the order of the new global situation. It is normal that children migrate to other countries and places far away in marriage, job, business etc and the notion of a single family with grandparents, husband, wife and children living together as a unit is already broken; what remains is the skeleton structure of the edifice. Thus contemporary life has made all of us into refugees irrespective of the status and other amenities, and this play is speaking exactly the same bizarre fact. The revealing of this unpleasant reality may be emotionally shocking and at the same time a purgative action. Thus the play is spotlighting on the disintegration and rupture of a conventional social structure.

The characters in the play are depicted as typical caricatures. But to communicate the depth of the situation and its gravity, the actor has to carry the characters beyond caricaturing and that is going to be the challenge for the actor.

The setting and atmosphere is more important than the characters in communicating the feel and meaning of the play. The rural railway station, the cement benches, the tree with flowers, the ground with a spread of fallen flowers, the lamp post, the darkness surrounding, the moonlight filtering, possibility of a fence of cactus etc enhance the significance to the whole enactment. The place is almost dark except the moonlight. The characters have the tendency to merge into the darkness than the pool of light.

The play breaks away from the proscenium and is performed in an open space preferably underneath a tree. The treatment of the play is direct and simple, and avoids all the theatrical jargons, clichés and set models of blocking, and routine play-making techniques. A group of new actors who are naïve, but instilled with energy and passion to theatre is trying to create this unique transition with their body, mind, experiences and emotion, to travel to the multiple layers of meaning spread under the surface of the written text. The performance is devised discussion, Improvisations, and by sharing of experiences. The process of preparation of this play was a special one to all involved, the artists and the director, where mutuality of meanings/experiences where reciprocated, an occasion for learning and comprehension.


Onstage we have Sukanya Shaji /M Madhubhen • Shaiju T Hamza /Sajeer Khan • TR Jayasankar / Anilkumar • Johny Thottunkal / Thomas Koshy • Harikrishnan S • Vysakh Lal • Ajikumar Thiruvankulam / Madan Kolavil and Antony TA along with Selvaraj.V.R • PM Vijayan • Charu Narayanan • Sree Parvathi Prasad • Ammu • Karthika and KN Meenakshi . Most of them are making a debut with Lokadharmi and is set to make a lasting impression on the stage with their histrionics and stage presence.

Among the technical crew I have a mix of experience with debutants. On lighting Jolly Antony is making his first independent work with a challenging play. Vinod B Gangadhar who does costumes and Charu Narayanan who does choreography are also new faces.

Set, Art & Properties are shouldered by Anoop S Kalarikkal with the assistance from Harikrishnan S. Prasanth Madhav is at the sound control, with Madan Kolavil doing the production works, documentation and Public relation. The gypsy songs and music in gibberish are devised by PM Vijayan and VR Selvaraj.

The sound and music direction is by the much experienced Bijibal who has established his presence in the theatre and film music of Kerala.

Anne Dubose from France has contributed by the workshop to arrive at movements that lead to the choreography of the play.

The production is acknowledging the Courtesy of Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram, & Vyapari Vyavasai Ekopana Samithi, Devankulangara, Edappalli for their support . The production is done with the financial support from Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi.

Noted screen writer John Paul will be the chief guest on 3rd, and prof M Thomas Mathew on 5th eve, to speak on the play Abhayarthikal and G Sankara Pillai.

Production & performance Lokadharmi, Kochi

Design & Direction Chandradasan

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Children's Theatre Festival and workshop at Rangaprabhath opens with ‘Girl in the Photograph’

Rangaprabhath organizes a five day Children's Theatre festival and workshop to commemorate the second death anniversary of its founder President Kochunarayana Pillai from the 27th of September to the first of October 2009. The festival will take place at the campus of Rangaprabhath Alunthara Venjaramoodu, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The festival is organized with the help of South Zone Cultural Centre Thanjavoor, and Sangeet Natak Akademi New Delhi.

The inaugural function will be attended by Prabhakaran Pazhassi the secretary of Sangeetha Nataka Academy Trissoor, S Ramanujam, and Chandradasan among others.

The 5 day workshop will start at 10 am on the 27th with the veteran director S.Ramanujam as the director, and Asok Sasi, S Anilkumar and KS Geetha as assistant directors.

The Festival will start with the show of Girl in The Photograph, performed by the children of Mazhavillu, the children's theatre wing of Lokadharmi, and is directed by Shirley Somasundaran. This festival is important as all the active Children's theatre groups are of Kerala is performing here.

The Schedule of the festival is

27th September 7.30 pm Girl in the photograph - Shirley Somasundaran - Mazhavillu Kochi,

28th September 7.00 pm Joseph Neenal Vazhatte - Gopi Kuttikkol - Sunday theatre Kasargod

8.00 pm Nizhal - S Anilkumar;Rangaprabhath

29th September 7.00 pm Kalippattangal - KV Ganesh –Rangachethana, Trissoor

8.00 pm Kunjichirakukal - KV Ganesh - Navarang Palakkadu

30th September 7.00 pm Padapadam Pappadam – Aluntrhara G Krishna Pillai - Aruma Childrens theatre, Ayirooppara

8.00 pm Raksha Purushan – Prof. N Rajan Nair - Kalavedi Trivandrum

1st October 7.30 pm Nidhiyum Neethiyum - S Anilkumar - Rangaprabhath.

It is natural to expect the presence of G Sankara Pillai in Rangaprabhath and its activities since it is one the dream projects the great theatre missionary dreamt and worked for. Among the plays performed in the festival three are penned by him, Nizhal, Rakshapurushan and Nidhiyum Neethiyum of which Rakshapurushan is an adult play. One play –Kunjichirakukal- is written by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. Both the children's plays of G Sankara Pillai are performed by Rangaprabhath, the playwrights dream-place with/for children and both are structured around a grandma narrating stories to kids.

‘Nizhal’ (Shadow)

The play throws light on to the foolishness of King and his courtiers. They follow the shadow of the queen’s lost Diamond necklace. There comes a prophet and he helps them to find out the truth behind the shadows. He invokes them not to follow the shadow, but the truth. “Men are blind,” the sage prophet says, “they go after shadows and reflections forgetting the real treasures of life.”

‘Nidhiyum Neethiyum’ (Treasure and Justice)
The play is a fight in between good and evil, meant to purify the heart of the students audience and highlights the importance of adopting truthful means in life.

‘The Girl in the Photograph’

the girl in the photograph2

The girl is Kim Phuc, the little nine year old, running naked down a road, screaming in agony from the jellied gasoline coating her body and burning through skin and muscle down the bone, running through the burning streets of Vietnam.

And the photographer is Nick Ut who won the Pulitzer Prize for capturing the collective conscience of the whole world against the brutality of war, through this single picture, – the one photograph that captured the horrific nature of Vietnam War.

Her village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam was napalmed that day in 1972. It would take many years, and 17 operations to save her life. And when she finally felt well enough to put it behind her, that very photograph would make her a victim, all over again.


This play in Malayalam, enacted by 25 children, narrates the story of agony and survival, pays a floral tribute to the war victims, and sends out a strong message that the prey of war is always the children,- the next generation. The play was also about John Plummer who dropped the bomb and about the trauma and guilt-feel he undergoes.

The end of the play suggests the possibility of sparkling of lights from the stars in the dark sky, a ray of hope when Kim pardons John and they join together to dedicate their life in bringing some illumination in the lives of the war victims, as symbolized by the lit candles, shared by the actors on stage and the audience.

The cultural characteristics of Vietnam and nature of the backdrop of the story were depicted in a suggestive level, as the priority of the production seemed not on the authenticity or the specificity of the culture, backdrop or the environment; but on the historical facts that were well researched and authentic. At the same time the little fluidity in the depiction of the background, atmosphere, costumes, rituals, properties, music, etc helped to transport the premise into a universally valid experience, beyond time and place of the incident.

The play used the projection of the photograph of Kim which served as the key motif behind, scenes depicting napalm bombing, and a depiction of the famous reply speech of Kim on her selection as the goodwill ambassador of UNESCO. The production is an amalgamation of the facts with fiction and these projections provided the needed link. In the last scene Kim breaks open the screen and comes to John Plummer saying “I am a victim of war, I was a victim of many things, but Life is beautiful”.

The production was trying to be simple, direct, and matter of fact, devoid of any pretentious stuff and this transparency helped the communication of the basic idea quite successfully.

The children who acts in the play are Nikitha, Krishna, Pooja, Vijaykrishnan,Sarath, Clint, Amar,Krishnanunni, Govind,Ashwin,Aparna,Sree Parvathy, Ramakrishnan,Lakshmi,Dhruvakumar, Meenakshi,Sreenandini,Aravind,Sabareesh, and Ammu.

The credit goes to Jolly Antony & Manoosh (Set) Jolly & Unni (Sound), -Aarsha & Aadarsh (Music), Vibhu, Gayathri, Vijaykrishnan (Singers) Santhosh & Ayyappa Thejas (Orchestration), Namitha & Francis (Costumes), -Zeena,& Usha (Art & Properties ) Charu & Pradeep (Make Up-) Rema.K.Nair (Associate Direction-) Chandradasan (Lighting and Creative supervision).The play is scripted and directed by Shirly Somasundaram and produced and performed by Mazhavillu,Kochi

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Elegy for the Displaced


Express News Service

First Published : 15 Sep 2009 12:04:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 15 Sep 2009 09:40:18 AM IST

KOCHI: Soorpanakha is the rereading of the story of Soorpanakha based on ‘Thaykulam’, a short story written by Sara Joseph.soorppanakha drama

The theatrical interpretation presents the main character as a representative of femininity who is mutilated in response to her plea for love. The play tries to find the meta-mindset of Soorpanakha within all feminine premises. It tells the story of pain and loss that blocks all organic routes of humankind.

The story finds a modern day interpretation in the tales from Sri Lanka, Muthanga, Moolampilly and Chengara.

The play employs stage and screen technology to present past and future events on stage making use of primeval characters from myth and placing them against the backdrop of modern reality.

The play also explores the scope of Kurathi, one among the strongest poetic interpretations of femininity, by the late Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan.

The new twist in the dramatic plot adds to the enigmatic style of visualisation and the play becomes a theatrical expression of social interaction.

In the play Soorpanakha becomes a martyr and the victim of a strange legal morality that leaves the earth and woman wounded forever.

She comes back from the world of long forgotten primordial forms to repeat the Ramayana. And to represent the mutilated nature and ousted tribes the undeniable social metaphors of Muthanga, Moolampilly and Chengara are used.

'Soorpanakha' is conceived and directed by Ullas Mavilayi, a post graduate in Malayalam literature and a graduate from School of Drama, Thrissur. Actively involved in amateur theatre activities in Kerala, he has worked on many plays performed all over Kerala and Delhi. Director of many plays including 'Soothakodeeram', 'Othello', 'Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre' and 'Innalthe Mazha', he has acted and assisted in directing in the Tamil film In the Name of Buddha.

Pradeep Chittor, the actor who plays the role of Soorpanakha has been active in amateur theatre for the last eleven years.

He has performed for popular theatre attempts like 'Karnabharam', 'Poranadi', 'Media', 'Innalathe Mazha', 'Pattabakki' and 'Chayamukhi'. He was the winner of the central government scholarship for theatre performance in the year 2005 and an active member of Lokadharmi, theatre group of Prof Chandradasan.

'Soorpanakha' will be staged on September 17 at Edappally Changampuzha Park at 6 30 pm.

Courtesy New Indian Express Kochi, 15 September 2009


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cries of Primordial forms return….Soorppanakha a solo by Pradeep Chittoor

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The premiere show of Soorppanakha a solo play enacted by Pradeep Chittoor, scripted and directed by Ullas Mavilayi will take place at 6.30 pm at Changampuzha Park Edappally on 17th September 2009. This play is developed from the short story Thaikulam written by Sara Joseph.

In the story Thaikulam Sara Joseph tries to find the meta-mindset of Soorppanakha within all feminine premises by her extra sense. It tells the story of pain on loosing the organic roots mankind. In the new theatrical improvisation, new stories of de-rooting from Chengara, and Muthanga is narrated in the same passion as rootless men. in a way it is a kind of reinterpretation of some primeval characters from myth and reality linked together.  Stage and screen technology is used to depict the past and the present. The play explores the backdrop of Kurathi, by late Kadamminitta Ramakrishnan one among the strong poetic interpretation of femininity.

Sara Joseph will participate in the inaugural function and she will speak on ‘the contemporary  re-reading of Epics’

Pradeep Chittoor is actively working in Lokadharmi for the last 11 years as an actor, set designer and make-up artist. He has acted in the plays Karnnabharam, Poranadi, Medea,  Paattabakki (all directed by Chandradasan), Innalathe Mazha (dir.Ullas Mavilayi) and Chayamukhi (dir; Prasanth Narayanan). He won the National scholarship for advanced training in acting from the department of culture, Government of India in 1995.

Ullas Mavilayi who scripted and directs this play hails from Kannoor district and is a theatre graduate from School of Drama, Trichur. he has worked with eminent directors like Abhilash Pillai, Radha Karman etc and visited Japan. his directorial ventures include Soothakodeeram, Othello, Dharmakshethre Kurukshethre, Innalathe Mazha etc. He has also acted and assisted in direction of the Tamil film ‘In the name of Buddha’.

The music of the play is by Ajan, art by Premkumar Kottakkal, Set & property by Bhanuvajanan, Light by Harikrishnan S, Costumes by Seema Santhosh, sound control by Prasanth Madhav, and production by Charu Narayanan. The play is presented by Lokadharmi with the assistance from Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram.

Directors Note A new twist in the South Indian dramatic plot adds an enigmatic layer of visualization to make the theatrical expression a social interaction. Perhaps it can look strange when viewed through the dark glasses of the protagonist of this play, Soorppanakha, who is the martyr of a strange legal morality that made the soil and women wounded for ever. She comes back to the senses of men from ancient fairy tales. the nature stands on one side as it lost its motherhood, and on the other side the silent elegy of men who are displaced from their soil begin. Over the terrific defeat of ideologies, only some names are left, Muthanga, Chengara, Moolampilly, as the undeniable social metaphors. Those cries return to the world of long forgotten primordial forms. And the ‘Ramayana’ repeats again… 

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Paattabakki at Soorya Festival 2009


This years Soorya Theatre Festival is scheduled from October 11th to 20th with the performance of 11 plays by 9 directors. The festival takes place at SST College of Music Thiruvanathapuram at 6.45 pm. One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the three plays directed by Soorya Krishnamoorthy. Paattabakki written by K.Damodaran and directed by me for Lokadharmi is included in this festival.

The festival showcases plays of directors like Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, Raju Narippatta, Jayaprakash Kuloor, M.Vinod, Manjulan, Vinodkumar, and Pramod Payyannur.

There is an emphasis on realistic productions and direct communication in this year’s festival.

Melvilasam (Address) – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram (11th October)

Adapted from a Hindi Short Story "Court Martial' by Swadesh Deepak and inspired from the experiences of Gopi Poojapura, an ex-soldier of Indian Army, the play highlights the caste differences in the Society. The trauma experienced by a jawan from a backward community, who is ill treated by his superiors is brought out through an emotional presentation and effective dialogues. The play goes into the reasons that compelled the soldier to commit the murder of his officer and seeks to depict the relentless fight between the privileged and the downtrodden. The play is noticed for its simplicity of narration which depends on the histrionics of the actors who lived as characters devoid of any technical extravaganza. This can be called as one naturalistic production ever happened in Malayalam theatre.

Prema Lekhanam (Love Letter) – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram (12th October)

Premalekhanam’ is an adaptation of the famous story by Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, that revolves around the romance of Kesavan Nair, a bank employee from a conservative Nair family, and Saramma, a member of an orthodox Christian family.

The significant feature of the play was its simplicity. Simplicity was the dominant aspect of the theme, the dialogues, the acting, the costumes, the properties, the lighting and the total design.

Although Basheer wrote ‘Premalekhanam’ 65 years ago, the play reminds us that the ‘progress’ in our society is still superficial and that we have a long way to go before we can claim to be secular.

Pulari (Dawn) – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram (13th October)

`Pulari' is the story "of those who are waiting for their own reasons and also those who do not know what to wait for".

The story is set in pre-independence India. It happens in a village in North Kerala called Chamundipuram. The characters in the story strongly believe that their dreams will materialize one day.

A station master who dreams of a day when an express train would stop at his railway station, a tea-shop owner who dreams of a credit-free day, a post master whose wish is a letter addressed to him, a young lady who hopes that her already married lover would come back to her, a tailor who is desperate to stitch a silk cloth, an old man who waits for the remains of his dead son, and a young girl - Ammu - who waits for her father to return, although she knows that he is dead!

The life and times of people who lived 60 years ago were effectively illustrated on stage. A tea shack, a tailoring shop and a post office filled the stage.... the attention to detail enhanced the feel of the play and the period and the place in which it is set.

Madhyama Vyayogam – Kavalam Narayana Panikkar - Sopanam, Thiruvananthapuram (14th October)

'Madhyama Vyayogam' marks Sopanam's maiden encounter with Sanskrit Theatre in 1978. A major breakthrough in Kavalam's career as a director came when he was offered a chance to produce and present a Sanskrit drama at the prestigious Kalidas Samaroh in Ujjain. And on November 2, 1978, 'Madhyama Vyayogam' was presented in Ujjain and was received with a standing ovation. The audience could feel the strength of the Sanskrit presentation, the usage of body dynamics by the actors and their ability to combine the "Satvika" and "Vachika" acting.


Mahakavi Bhasa's 'Madhyama Vyayogam' is based on an incident in the Mahabharatha. The Central point of the dramatic development of the play is Madhyama (the middle one) applied to both, Bhima, the Madhyama Pandava, and the Madhyama, the second of the three sons of a Brahmin. A theme which brings home to us the warmth of family relationship, the stimulation of human sentiments - the old values being recaptured in a highly dramatic situation.

Bastukara- - Raju Narippatta- Nava Kerala Kalasamithi Karalmanna (15th October)

Bastukara is the new play by Narippatta Raju, and is dedicated to the memory of Baburaj and is an adaptation of the short story by Shihabuddin Poithumkadavu. ‘Basthukara’ is the rags-to-riches story of Avukkar Haji whose obsession for music coupled with a sense of munificence finally impoverishes him and his flourishing business.

The narration of the play includes symbols, flash-back, alienation, fantasy et al. Captivating strains of Baburaj’s songs, for which Haji has a fascination, enhances the appeal of the show.

Ithu Oru Kurangante Kadhayalla (This is not the Story of a Monkey) & Manakkanakku – Jayaprakash Kuloor - (16th October)

This years Soorya Festival has Two plays by Jayaprakash Kuloor whose presence was regular from the first Soorya festival. The difference this time is that instead of mini plays that were sort of curtain raisers in the earlier festivals Kuloor comes with two plays Ithu Oru Kurangante Kadhayalla and Manakkanakku, both penned and directed by him. One can expect the path of improvisation and a approach that is breaking the barriers of conventionalism, the trade mark of Kuloor theatre.

Kanyadanam – M Vinod– Thrissur Natakasauhradam (17th October)

The play ‘Kanyadanam’ is written by Thikkodiyan and is based on the Christian life of Malabar proclaims the value of perseverance. This play is directed by M Vinod for Thrissur Nataka Sauhridam, an important theatre group that has completed 10 years of continuous functioning.

Paattabaakki (Balance Lease) – Chandradasan – Lokadharmi, Kochi (18th October)


The Malayalam play, `Paattabakki,' was written by the late K. Damodaran, well-known Communist theoretician. Considered the first political drama of Kerala, it was said to be written in one single night, to be performed at a conference of the Karshaka Sangham, the farmers' guild of the Communist Party of India in Malabar.

The story revolves around the obnoxious custom of `Paattabakki,' the weapon wielded by land-owners to extort farmers who took land and paddy fields on lease.

But, the play continues to be relevant as long as an oppressive social system continues to exist.

Though didactic in nature, `Paattabakki' never raises any slogans; the message is subtle and the play ends only with a hint towards the solution, without stating it explicitly.

Koonan ( Hunchback) – Jayaprakash Kuloor/Manjulan-Perumthattakam Kannur & Kannadi (Mirror) – Vinodkumar –Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady - (19th October)

On 19th October two plays penned by Jayaprakash Kuloor are scheduled.

The first one is a solo show `Koonan' (The Hunchback) and performed by Manjulan and is about a hunchback's unrequited love. The play starts with him fondling a bunch of flowers, which he had got for his love. Just before he dies, he gives away the bunch of flowers to a little girl, knowing for sure that this gesture would not change his ‘lover’s’ feelings for him.

The second play of the day is Kannadi (Mirror) directed by Vinodkumar and performed by the department of theatre Sree Sankaracharya University of Sankrit Kalady, again penned by Jayaprakash Kuloor. The play tells the story of a young couple that had not seen a mirror in their life. Kannadi is portrayed as something that could not only help people realize themselves but also destroy their lives

Mathilukal (Walls) – Pramod Payyannur – Swaralaya Palakkad (20th October)

The Thruvanthapuram edition of Soorya Festival conclude with the play “Mathilukal”, based on short story by Vaikkam Muhammed Basheer directed by Pramod Payyannur and acted among others by K.P.A.C. Lalitha , M.R.Gopakumar, Ibrahim Vengara, Unni Sathar etc.

Pattabakki (The lease balance)


As early as in 1936 when the political arena in Kerala was becoming more and more tense with the peasant landlord antagonism and anti-British movement, the ideological intellectualism of the middle class was struggling to find strategies of containment in various fields of creative activity. The age-old concept of a coercive aesthetics of "divine bliss" and the appropriation of the cultural life and elemental human experience of the majority came to have little significance in the newly evolved performance praxis which clearly was being determined by the social contradictions of the times. Here, art and performance became a highly conscious and rational social activity for the new playwrights who were basically social reformers first and foremost. The shaping spirit of this newly emerged theatre practice with an aggressive aesthetic and performance orientation gave birth to another genre totally new to Malayalam theatre which found its expression in K. Damodaran's Pattabakki (1936). Considered as the first political play in Malayalam, Pattabakki rooted itself in the anti-feudal consciousness of the people, which was getting manifested in the struggles of the peasants against feudal landlordism supported by the British regime. A new structure of human experience, determined, by the socio-political reality undertook the task of vehemently challenging the hegemonic ideology of the times. This new performance pattern which was basically realistic reached every nook and corner of Kerala to establish a lasting effect upon the future developments in the radical theatre practice of Kerala.

Thus, it can be surmised that with K.Damodaran's Pattabakki Malayalam theatre practice came of age in 1937 and the subsequent developments in Kerala theatre very clearly indicates the class-contradictions embedded at the core of the fast changing social formations

Structure wise also the play is interesting. At one level it has a documentary nature that episodically builds up. The different scenes are charged with emotions but the story develops between each scenes. The play has 14 scenes that take place in verandah of a small and decaying hut, a small teashop in the town, the house of the landlord, a street, a small shop, and police station, the office room of the barn of the landlord, under a tree in a street, a prostitution house, and a jail. The locales of scenes suggest the locales where political and social power is operated. The play is written in the realistic style but it is not the naturalism but a suggestive realism is suited for this work. The earlier productions of this play has been on the realistic melodramatic overtones and was over projecting the emotional content of the radical political stands of the play making it a simplistic sloganistic piece. It is noteworthy that the play did not give a direct answer to the problems it raises but ends in open. When asked what to be done o face such grave exploitation the central character just say that ‘I will tell you”

A Brechtian approach in a didactic and open structure will make the play a new experience. The episodical narrative is addressing the audience directly and mostly talks to them enhancing the dialectical nature of this play. The play is  presented in an open space where each of the scenes are arranged in different spaces with suggestive realistic set pieces and props and the audience is made to shift attention from space to space.

The period of this production is set during the 1960s even if the issues raised in this play transcend spaces and time. It is valid as long as the social structure is existing that oppresses the working class people.

Thematically the play speaks about agriculture, the farmer the land owner and the relationships between them and the exploitation. At present even agriculture as a social activity is almost extinct from Kerala life and it will be interesting to enquire the passion with which our farmers worked on the field even under sheer exploitation. It is the sheer social situation that makes the protagonist to thieve and the female lead to opt for prostitution. Theft and prostitution are approached by the playwright not as sin but as the result of social pressure in the oppressed. The presentation of the play in this era will be interesting in this approach to prostitution and thieves and the fake morality that prevails today.

The cast of the play is Sukanya Shaji, Vijayakumar, Govind Nambiar, TS Asha Devi, Ajaikumar Thiruvankulam, N.Somasundaran, Sudheer Babu, Shirly Somasundaran, Madan Kolavil, Johny Thottunkal, Kalamandalam Prabhakaran, VR Selvaraj, Santhosh Piravam, Damodaran Nambothiri, Prasanth madhav, Kannatte Kalesh Sanosh Palluruthi, Amar Mohan, & Meghanadhan

The technical crew comprises of Jolly Antony (Set), Bijibal (Music); Shirly Somasundaran, (Costume Design): Anoop Kalarikkal, (Art &Properties), Gireesh Menon (Lighting) and Madan Kolavil (Production in Charge).


Pattabakki will be performed on the 11th October at JT Pac Thripunithura and on 18th at SST College of Music at Thiruvananthapuram, the 6th and 7th performances of this play.

We dedicate these shows to the memory of Late Kalamandalam Kesavan who was acting the role of the landlord in the previous shows of Paattabakki.

Edition of Soorya Festival at JT Pac Thripunithura

This year the Soorya Theatre Festival has an aedition at JT Pac Thripunithura, Ernakulam (Choice School Compound) also. All the plays performed at Thiruvanathapuram are performed here also. The Schedule is given below.

11th October Paattabakki (Balance Lease) – Chandradasan – Lokadharmi, Kochi

12th October Ithu Oru Kurangante Kadhayalla & Manakkanakku – Jayaprakash Kuloor

13th October Madhyama Vyayogam – Kavalam Narayana Panikkar - Sopanam, Thiruvananthapuram

14th October Bastukara- - Raju Narippatta- Nava Kerala Kalasamithi Karalmanna

15th October Pulari – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram

16th October Prema Lekhanam – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram

17th October Melvilasam – Soorya Krishnamoorthy- Soorya, Thiruvananthapuram

18th October Kanyadanam – M Vinod– Thrissur Natakasauhradam

19th October Mathilukal (Walls) – Pramod Payyannur – Swaralaya Palakkad

20th October 1.Koonan – Jayaprakash Kuloor/Manjulan-Perumthattakam Kannur & 2.Kannadi – Vinodkumar –Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady

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