Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A journey through Bommanahalli

K Surekha

First Published : 18 May 2010 01:03:00 AM IST

The New Indian Express daily

KOCHI: The aspirants of Mazhavillu, children’s wing of Lokadharmi theatre transported the audience to Bommanahalli and its milieu with vibrancy and ease. Bommanahalliyile Kinnara Yogi, the colourful adaptation of Browning’s poem by Kuvempu came alive on stage in Chandradasan’s hands as he blended the local, national and global aesthetics with his apt design, script and direction. Legends, myths, rituals, traditions and beliefs that ruled the villagers of yore took one back in time even as they rang a bell of contemporary realities.

All the 33 kids, a few changing roles now and then to bring to life a village setting, did justice to their characters.

They seemed to enjoy every moment on stage making the character come alive.

From start they lured the audience with their passionate performance like the Yogi who magnetised the rats and later kids with his music on the ‘kinnara’.

_MG__5105 This poetic drama began with song and dance, with the chorus enlightening the viewers wherever required.

One can sense the mood of the villagers. Like today the people are unhappy with the authority. Village chieftain Gowda lacks vision and dreams only of minting money, threatening the people with dire consequences if they don’t pay taxes. The villagers are burdened with a new problem - vermin menace. The bold and naughty rats stop at nothing. They eat food, destroy clothes and one even steals the chieftain’s turban and places it on its head to be leader. He manages his clan better than Gowda does, always scheming and plotting ways to overcome the traps laid by the villagers. They easily capture the rat-trap man, they create havoc at the rat yagna. They kill the cat and attack the dog. Repeated complaints and his own bitter experiences with the pests prompt Gowda to offer 6000 gold coins to anyone who can solve the problem. All look out for ideas and they see the dramatic arrival of Yogi accompanied by his people dancing his way through the audience to the stage. He stuns them with his song, dance and tales about his skill to rid rats in Kailasa and Vaikunta.

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He demands a price and is satisfied by 6000 gold coins. Gowda falls at his feet and pleads for help. The Yogi like the Pied Piper charms the rats with his music and leads them to a river where all but one perish, which relates the plight of his companions and begs for mercy which is granted. The rats symbolically throw their masks into the river and don the role of village children who are lured away by the Yogi in retaliation of the chieftain’s refusal to pay the promised money. A lame child is left lamenting. The people who forgave the lonely rat are full of hate for the Yogi. The play does not end there, the villagers take you off stage where the Yogi is burned in effigy (reminiscent of rituals and Ramlila in which the victory of good over evil is celebrated by burning effigies), with all the characters singing and dancing around.

The Yogi is believed to visit the village every year to seek his reward. The play is layered with political, cultural and ecological implications which are not lost with kids taking on mature roles.

The conflict between Gowda and the people, the rats and the villagers, Gowda and Yogi, cat and rats, dog versus rats say much about mutual coexistence of man and animals.

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Smooth dialogue delivery, change of scene and roles and natural acting accentuated by song, dance, music and lighting, simple narration, apt props and the style of presentation with many narrative forms and traditions, apt props made the show entertaining and though-provoking. Each kid was lost in his or her role taking the audience to the rustic simplicity of village life in general and Bommanahalli of Yore in particular.

Courtesy: The new Indian Express

surekha@expressbuzz.com

Stills: Jipson

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pied Piper of Bommanahalli

 

Express Features

First Published : 12 May 2010 12:46:00 AM IST

Last Updated :

KOCHI: Children’s theatre Mazhavillu is all set to stage Bommanahalliyile Kinnara Yogi on Friday evening. The play revolves around Kuvempu’s imaginative adaptation of Browning’s Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Chandradasan has made it into a poetic narrative, sung and enacted by a group of singer-actors.

The meaning and objective of this production is basically achieved through the rendering of the characters and their depiction. Each character is delineated and represented in specific expose so that the narrative is developed into a form that relates to the contemporary reality and time.

Gowda is the usual, inefficient village-chief interested in nothing but collecting taxes, eating and sleeping.

In a shift from the poem, Gowda does not offer 6000 gold coins to Yogi as a reward for killing the rats.

He offers this amount to any villager who can stop people from complaining. One of the villagers tell Yogi about this. In fact, the village does not have that much money to spare, and Gowda is left to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Yogi.

Yogi is a performer and charmer who is able to lure people. He boasts that he is a friend of Lord Siva and Vishnu and has eradicated rats from Kailasa and Vaikunta.

And he insists on getting the money for his services. Yogi is alien to the rustic simplicity of the rural Bommanahalli.

He comes from a faraway place with some odd objectives which the simpletons of the village cannot recognise.

They are victims to the existing practice of Gowda, the rat attack and later to the ploy of Yogi.

The rats are naughty and daring; they do all kinds of mischief. The story of the pied piper is narrated in direct, simple, transparent and candid style. It is attempted to create a cosmos of the exuberance, earthiness, and hurdles of rural life where various ecosystems co-exist.

Towards the end of the play the people understand the pain of the lone rat and decide not to kill it.

It is the empathy with which men and animals understand and respond reciprocally that expresses the mutuality of existence subtly but clearly.

The performance structure, design and form are derived from many narrative forms of various living traditions.

The play will be staged at Changampuzha Park on May 14 at 6.30 p.m.

Courtesy ; Indian Express, 12 May 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Premiere of the play Bommanahalliyile Kinnara Yogi

 

My new play Bommanahalliyile Kinnara Yogi is premiered on 14th May 2010 at 6.30 at Changampuzha park Edappalli, Kochi, Kerala. This play is written , designed and directed by me based on a Kannada poem by Kuvempu and is performed by Mazhavillu the childrens theatre group, Kochi.

Synopsis

In this beautiful and imaginative adaptation of Browning’s Pied Piper, Kuvempu retains almost all of the original imagery and structure; still the transformation into the Kannada cultural milieu is complete and authentic; the outlook and characteristics of the people and the narrative mode are completely localized to Kannada culture, perspective and expression.

In Kuvempu poem is pungent with increased irony, pun, humor and have the weirdness of abstraction than the original. The structure of the performance text derived from this poem, naturally will be that of a poetic narrative, sung and enacted by a group of singer-actors. These singers might have traveled through ages and have witnessed/ inherited the poetry from ancestors. The singers join and attach themselves to the action as and when needed, and detach subsequently; they represent the people of the village. This continuous travel from character to singer-narrator and back will give an air of informality and provide a relaxed pursuit to the spectator.

The meaning and objective of this production is basically achieved through the rendering of the characters and their depiction. Each character is delineated and represented in specific exposé so that the narrative is developed into a form that relates to the contemporary reality and time.

Gowder is a usual, inefficient village-chief interested in nothing except collecting taxes, eating and sleeping. He has a big dog to scare people who complains; and is surrounded by a group of worthless intellectuals and advisers, unable to bring about solution to any problem. In a shift from the poem, the Gowda do not offer 6000 gold coins to Yogi, as reward to killing the rats. He offered this amount to any villager to keep his people silent from complaining, and was sure that none will come with any solution. One of the villager in turn told Jogi about this announcement. In fact the village does not have that much money in hand to spare, and Gowda was positioned in between an ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to Yogi.

The Kinnara Yogi character is particularly beguiling. Yogi is a performer and charmer who have immense ability to allure people. He boasts that he is the friend of lord Siva and Vishnu and has eradicated rats from Kailasa and Viakunta. And he insists that he shall get the money for his services. The space of the Yogi seems at the meeting point of the world meets with the legends, myths and fantasy; he has a link to mundane and with the imaginary. But he is alien to the rustic simplicity of the rural Bommanahalli and comes from a far away place with some odd objectives which the simpletons of the village cannot recognize. They are victims to the existing practice of the Gowda, the rat attack and later to the ploy of Yogi.

The rats are naughty and daring; they do all kinds of mischief, snatch the headgear of Gowda, and run a parallel government. They are represented with half masks, puppetry (glove, stick and hand) along with physicalisation and speak in a gibberish-rat language and/or also in Malayalam. In a metamorphosis the rats throw the headgears/masks/ and puppets to the river at the end of the play, and take the role of children.

The story of the pied piper is narrated direct and simple in this transparent and candid presentation; it is attempted to create a cosmos of the exuberance, earthiness, and hurdles of the rural life where various ecosystems co-exist. The people, Gowda and his men, artist/singers, Bhattas, cat, dog, rats, river and hills coexist to form a complete and balanced universe, mutually complimenting and completing.

Towards the end of the play the people understands the pain of the lone rat and decides not to kill it. The dog understands the reasoning of the people; the lament of the lame child who lost the heaven to be left in this unhappy world reverberates to the sensitivity of the people. It is the empathy with which men and animals understand and responds reciprocally that expresses the mutuality of existence subtly but clearly.

The play is basically designed for a proscenium, but extends beyond even to the outside of the theatre in the finale scene. The actors assemble around the installation of a Yogi effigy pronouncing that the story of Yogi happened many years before. As a tribute the Yogi story is performed every year and to end the performance they set fire to the Yogi effigy, as reminiscent in Ramleela and many other ritual performances.

The performance structure design and form is derived from many narrative forms from various living traditions. The first part is more hilarious, humorous, and slapstick; the entry of Yogi shifts into a musical narrative where the actors, sing, dance and perform the characters. Use of imaginative sets, properties and music suggest the space, characters, time, as well as the cultural/ political implications of the play.

The narrative of the play is straight, simple, and transparent that is relating to the hilarity and humor of the narration. The performance language is designed so as to give the space for creativity and the histrionic talent of the children, the whole process of rehearsal was exhilarating to the little actors; a scheme of rehearsal and play making that was more process oriented than the product.

Cast

AISWARYA.M • ALEX.J.PULIMOOD • AMAL • AMAR MOHAN • AMRITRAJ S • ARVIND AJAY • ARAVIND.R • ARUN.A • ASWATHY.K.S • DILJAZ • JAYASURYA.J • GOURI KRISHNA • GOVIND NAMBIAR • GOWRI MURALI • INKITA INESH • JAYABHAMI.J • JEYASURIYAA.M.A • K.DEVASREE MOHAN • K.N.DHRUVAKUMAR • K.N.MEENAKSHI • KARTHIKA S. • KIRAN XAVIER • MANUTIOUS • NIKHIL VISHWAM • RAMAKRISHNAN • RITHUL • ROHIN.K • SABAREESH.M.A• SREENANDINI• UNNIMADHAV EDANILATH • UNNIMAYA EDANILATH • VARADA • VIJAY KRISHNAN

Credits

Art & Properties — ANOOP S KALARICKAL

Set & Sound - JOLLY ANTONY

Live percussion — KISHORE NK & AYYAPPA THEJUS

Vocal support — AARSHA CHANDANAVATTAM, AADARSH & MANIKANTAN

Costumes — SHIRLY SOMASUNDARAN & REMA K NAIR

Direction Assistance – SARATH R NATH

Music & Lighting— GIREESH MENON

Production Assistance – HARIKRISHNAN & CHARU NARAYANAN

Media Management ­– MADAN KOLAVIL

Original Poem — KUVEMPU

Text, Design & Direction - CHANDRADASAN

PresentationMAZHAVILLU, KOCHI, KERALA.