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’

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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.

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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”.

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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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