Thursday, October 15, 2009


This is the report that came in New Indian express daily Cochin edition on 3rd October 2009, as a curtain raiser to our premiere of the play Abhayarthikal. Photo Gireesh Menon

LOKADHARMI will present its new play "Abhayarthikal" on october 3 and 5 at Changampuzha Park,Edapally.Based on the drama written by G.Shankara Pillai,"Abhayarthikal" throws light on the disintegration of family and social structure.

      Designed and directed by Prof.Chandradasan,it will be a new experience for Kochiites as this  highly Ibsenesque play will be performed in open air.Though the drama was written in 1965,it has rarely been performed in Kerala.


      Three different plots are interwoven in this play and it depicts the social situation and concerns of the Kerala society at that period.The arrangement and structure look realistic in nature and the characters are often caricatures.The play is set in a village railway station in the darkness of night.All the characters are waiting for a train to come and have their own reasons for being there.The play looks into the refugee in every human and the sense of insecurity irrespective of "having a home'.There is the presence of some north-indian refugees settled nearby and there presence reaches the stage mostly through sounds and songs.

         The main characters in the play are Janaki,a woman in her 30s,Prabhakaran,a young man in search of his lady love and an old man waiting for his son to return from the army. There are also a bridegroom,a politician and Arishttam Kittan,an illicit liquor peddler.

         The play hints at 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.

       The setting and atmosphere are 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 etc enhance the significance of the whole enactment.The play takes place mostly in the dark and the characters have the tendency to merge into the darkness.


        The play breaks away from the proscenium and is performed underneath a tree.The treatment of the play is direct and simple,and avoids all the theatrical jargon,clichés and set models of blocking, and technique.

     The play will begin at 6:30 pm.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The blog world is his stage

This article is on the blog Spacing Theatre published in New Indian Express, Written by Asha P Nair.

Asha P Nair

First Published : 13 Oct 2009 01:12:00 AM IST

He is married to theatre. A director, actor and writer. Winner of various awards. But Chandradasan, the artistic director of Lokadharmi theatre company in Kochi, is also a strong presence in the blogosphere.

Spacing Theatre, his blog, would not just let you know about his new plays, but also about theatre activities happening all around. The is slowly turning into a theatre guide for connoisseurs of drama. “When I began, it was meant as a production diary of my plays. Then I started putting in reviews of the plays I liked, the important theatre festivals happening and about my new plays. Now, I receive umpteen comments, which kind of motivates me to frequently blog,’’ says Chandradasan from Kochi.

His latest play, ‘Abhayarthikal’, when staged recently, had three theatre lovers from Bangalore come down just to see the play. They had been following his blog ardently. This has happened with Chandradasan more than once. “It has become a source of easy communication and a platform where relationships are made,’’ he says.

When his popular play ‘Karnabharam’ travelled to Kolkata for an event, Chandradasan did not fill his blog pages with that. Instead,  he wrote about a puppet play by a Slovenian theatre group which had caught his attention there. Reading it would make one want to see a puppet play.

‘The girl in the photograph’, a play done by Mazhavillu (the children’s theatre wing of Lokadharmi), the rural theatre at Thampakamukku, the production journals of ‘Abhayarthikal’, a tribute written for master playwright Vijay Tendulkar, review of ‘Kalivesham’  directed by Narippata Raju... Chandradasan blogs about all facets of theatre and happenings, which he thinks are worth sharing.

“There is a limitation in news sharing in general media; in blogs,  there is a reach that touches international levels,’’ he says. True; for, the appearance of his essay in a book published by Routledge had received comments from across the globe, minimizing the world to a little computer screen. It may be the reason why Chandradasan writes his blog in English.

Language, after all, is only secondary in blogging. There is a community group in the name of Lokadharmi, which Chandradasan keeps active just like his personal blog. But, one day, he would like his blog also to be a community platform. “I don’t mind if somebody interested in theatre wants to post a well-written piece in my blog and make it a sharing space,’’ he says. Probably, this is what he meant by Spacing Theatre.

Courtesy; The New Indian Express 13 October 2009…

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Friday, October 9, 2009

The many faces of alienation



‘Abhayarthikal’ written by G. Sankara Pillai, which was staged in Kochi, has many parallels with Ibsen’s ‘Doll House.’

Photo:Vipin Chandran

Modern interpretation: ‘Abhayarthikal.’

Who is a refugee? The play ‘Abhayarthikal,’ written by G. Sankara Pillai in 1965, and directed by Chandradasan, attempted to answer this question. The play was staged recently at the Changampuzha Park, Edappally.

The language used in the play was old, at times archaic, Malayalam but the diction was contemporary. It seems that the director of the play stuck to the original text and the dialogue, but attempted to interpret the play in a modern context.

Disintegration of society

“The play has parallels to Ibsen’s ‘Doll’s House’ and its philosophy. It is about the disintegration of social structure and failure of the concept of family,” says Chandradasan. The play is set at night in a railway station, when three different persons await the train. It has Janaki breaking free of the family bondage. She takes the initiative to get her husband and his lover married and then leaves the family behind. She finds an old man who is waiting for his son to return. The endless waiting for his son, who died as a soldier, has taken the man beyond the world of reality. So is the youth who is searching for his love – the daughter of a porter at the railway station. The youth refuses to acknowledge that she has been married off to someone else. Janaki is shown empathising with these two. But Janaki’s problem is her clash with the real world and the struggle to leave it behind. Like Ibsen’s Nora, Janaki too refused to listen to her husband’s pleas to return. The similarities between the two characters were loud enough, making the sound of a door closing at the end of the play, an obvious reference to Ibsen’s play, redundant.

“The original text had a suggestion that Janaki jumped in front of the train, ending her life. But we used the sound of the door to signify that she is moving on with life,” says Chandradasan.

A significant presence in the play is a group of refugees. The director used the proscenium at the venue as the stage for the refugees, while the main performing area was shifted to among the audience. But with the gypsy group remaining alienated, with their gibberish and having no particular connection in the progress of the narration, it did not have much relevance as such. The play attempts to convey the message that even within a family, those who have lost the link with realities end up as refugees – though not physically.

Madhuben performed well as Janaki, supported ably by Harikrishnan S. as the porter and Sajeer Khan as the mentally-challenged youth. Chandradasan also attempted special lighting to highlight the play of light and shade. “Only spot lights were used to accentuate the expressions of the actors,” says Chandradasan. Prof. Sankara Pillai pioneered experimental theatre in Malayalam. The play was staged in association with Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram and Vyapari Vyavasai Ekopana Samithi, Devankulangara, Edappally, with financial support from Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi.

Note. Courtesy Friday Review of The Hindu Thiruvanathapuram, o9 cotober 2009

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