Thursday, August 30, 2012

Draupadi in many moods

Parvathy Nambidi

Lokadharmi Theatre Group’s ‘Draupadi,’ to be staged tomorrow will look into the various shades of the epic character | EPSLokadharmi Theatre Group’s ‘Draupadi,’ to be staged tomorrow will look into the various shades of the epic character | EPS

Draupadi, as one of Mahabharata’s central characters, has always fascinated writers.  There have been several literary works on her, many portraying her as an embodiment of Indian womanhood. And all set to enthral the Kochi audience is Lokadharmi Theatre Group’s ‘Draupadi’, to be staged this Sunday at Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram directed by Chandradasan, the director of the theatre group. The one-and-half hour play will begin by 6.45 pm.

The play, as its title suggests, revolves around the character of Draupadi. The director says he was inspired by the idea after reading the novel ‘Yajnaseni’ written by Prathibha Ray. “I was enamoured by the multiple layers of the character. Novels ‘Ini Njan Urangatte’ by P K Balakrishnan, ‘Randamoozham’ by M T Vasudevan Nair, ‘Bharathaparyadanam’ by Kuttikrishna Marar and ‘Women of Mahabharata’ by Chaturvedi Badrinath were equally inspiring,” he says.

draupadi shobha (29)In the play, the playwright tries to analyse the modern woman through the epic character. “Draupadi is an archetype for woman of all ages. She married five great men, and hence could be considered a content person. But she could also be viewed as someone who had to compromise her preferences and priorities for the sake of others. She was a woman of intelligence and understanding. But she was forced to bear some injustice that came her way, so as to not break the framework of family. In that sense, Draupadi can be viewed as the representative of both the modern woman, and equally that of the marginalised section of the society,” says Chandradasan.

The play is presented in a unique way with several props like paintings, masks, puppeteers. Paintings of many well-known female faces like Sylvia Plath, Madhavi Kutti, Thaslima Nasrin, Silk Smitha and others have been used so as to relate to the present era. Masks are used to symbolise male characters, the concept being introduced by Dr Terry Converse, the Head of the Theatre Department of Washington State University.

Draupadi jipson 20 aug 12 (376)In order to maintain the continuity of the narrative, the same performers appear as different characters. The main character has been presented by Sukanya Shaji, a Kochi based theatre artist. While Adithye K Narayanan performs the role of Arjuna and Krishna, that of Yudhishtira, Bhima and Dushashana are enacted by V R Shelvaraj. Music of the play is by Sreevalsan J Menon. While art is by Shobha Menon, make up is by Pattanam Rasheed. Director Chandradasan, a professor at St Albert’s College has directed more than 40 plays in different languages.

Courtesy 18th New Indian Express August 2012 KOCHI

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Premiere of Draupadi

momento-draupadi-2Draupadi a play in Malayalam that tells the story of womanhood written, designed and directed by me is to be premiered at Changampuzha park Edappalli, Kochi India at 6.45 pm on 20th August 2012. Terry Converse from Washington State University, KS Rajendran from NSD New Delhi,  KG Paulose, and TM Abraham the vice chairman of Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademy will be the guests of the day.

The play

This play analyses the relationship between a contemporary girl living in an Indian town with the epic character Draupadi. It searches into the many layers of complexity by which the motif of Draupadi lives in the psyche of Indian women and also the reality of her life.

This performative analysis makes use the novels Yajnaseni written by Prathibha Ray, Ini njan urangatte by PK Balakrishnan, Randamoozham by MT Vasudevan Nair, the critical studies Bharathaparyadanam by Kuttikrishna Marar, and Women of Mahabharata by Chaturvedi Badrinath.

death of KrishnaDraupadi is wedded to five great men who are embodiments of all virtues, and is the love of Krishna, the universal lover. So it seems logical that she might have been the happiest lady on earth. The play looks into reality. In fact all her husbands have their own priorities and perception about Draupadi’s life; none of them acknowledged her individuality and self, her potential/needs as a human being, or even her sexuality. She was just another pawn in the game of politics, and has to sacrifice her ideals, dreams, and life itself for the men who mattered to her. The play looks into these aspects transports the experience of Draupadi transcending through the ages to the life and conditioning of a contemporary girl.

Draupadi is a woman of acute understanding and wisdom, very well aware of her circumstances. She opts to keep silent and go through whatever comes her way with the understanding that it was unjust and that she deserved better. Even when she rebelled against the odds in her own individual ways, she was not all that empowered to break out of the constraints that bound her and abandon the people who she believed were her family. This is where she becomes the representative of the contemporary Indian woman who is aware but also tied into the archetypes of family and morality fed into her by the collective conscience of her roots.

war-for-the-play-draupadi-by-shobhaThe performance structure is fluid in its narrative; the actors are performers as well as characters, shifting from one persona to the other. The role of Arjuna and Krishna are enacted by one actor, and that of Yudhishthira, Bhima and Dussasana by another actor. In between they transform to stage hands, narrators, puppeteers, and musicians so as to take the performance dynamics ahead and are in tune with the tradition of Indian theatre.

The play uses paintings, music, movement, puppets, props and lights to enhance performance and is in tune with the mode and aesthetics of Indian art.

Cast and Credit

A group of eminent artists are associating in this production that include, SUKANYA SHAJI, VR SELVARAJ. SHAIJU T HAMZA /ADITHYE K NARAYANAN as the actors. The credits is Music: SREEVALSAN J MENON, Music control: LATIF CEEPEE, Live percussion: KISHORE NK Vocal: RADHIKA NAIR Choreography: DEEPA KARTHA & RANJITH TRIPUNITHURA  Physical Trainer and Costumes– CHARU NARAYANAN Set: JOLLY ANTONY Properties &Materials: PRAMOD GOPALAKRISHNAN Art: SHOBHA MENON Make up: PATTANAM RASHEED Lighting- SRIKANTH Production Assistance: CHANDRAN V A AROOKKUTTY & JEBIN JESMES, Stills: JIPSON FOURFRAMES, Video KALLYAN, Mask Characterization – Dr. TERRY CONVERSE, USA Production in charge, & Media Management: MADAN KOLAVIL