Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Much ado about a growing nose

by SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

imageTheatre of the absurd:Artistes of Lokadharmi rehearsing a theatre adaptation of ‘Viswavikhyathamaya Mooku’ on Tuesday. —Photo: H. Vibhu

Satire is taking the centre stage yet again with Lokadharmi Centre for Theatre Training, Research and Performance presenting a contemporary theatre adaptation of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s satirical story,Viswavikhyathamaya Mookku (The World-Renowned Nose).

The story — jointly dramatised and directed by Professor of Theatre in the Washington State University School of Music and Theatre Arts Terry Converse and Lokadharmi director Prof. Chandradasan — will be staged at Changampuzha Park in Edapally at 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday as the culminating production of a ‘Mask Workshop’ organised by Lokadharmi.

Rendered in a mix of Malayalam and gibberish, the production will seek to heighten the satire ingrained in the Basheerian story by way of use of masks coupled with grotesque, swift movements in the performance idiom. The makers of the play maintain that the story is perfect for bringing the curtains down on an enriching workshop on masks.

Straddling the hilarious and the absurd, the nose story throws light on mass psychology that almost borders on nonsense.

It narrates the story of an idiotic cook finding himself sporting a growing nose one fine morning. The nose grows exceptionally large and evokes varied feelings, from revulsion in the beginning to adulation and reverence in the end. The growing nose costs the cook his job, but the controversial olfactory organ brings him fame and celebrity status.

The Lokadharmi production is without scenery, costumes, music and facial expression (as actors will all be masked), the production is challenging for the actors as a test of their ability to communicate and sustain the interest of the spectators without such instruments.

Hence, the production is an experiment in itself, say its makers. V.R. Selvaraj will appear as the ‘Mookan’ (the cook, the protagonist) in the production.

K.J. Sohan, chairman of the Corporation Standing Committee on Town planning, and poet S. Ramesan will be the chief guests for the staging.

Courtesy The Hindu 30 October 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Revealing mask

Parvathi Nambidi

22maskA group of men in mask, nudge a stout man, ridiculing him with gibberish. They pull his nose, and roars of laughter in an unknown language reverberates through the hall. The scene is the rehearsal camp of the play, ‘The World Renowned Nose’ adapted from the well known short story of the same name by Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer.

The play, to be staged by Lokadharmi Theatre Group, on October 30 at Changanpuzha Park is unique in many ways. It is being staged as part of the ongoing mask workshop conducted by Terry John Converse, Professor of Theatre at Washington University. Plays using masks is a rarity in our theatre scene. And moreover the play will be staged as a prologue to the production of the world famous play, ‘The Elephant Man’ that will be staged by Lokadharmi next year.

‘The Elephant Man’ by Bernard Pomnerance is a haunting tale about the plight of a Victorian man named John Merrick with a monstrous disfigurement. From a desperate misfit, the man gets elevated to a celebrated status, thanks to the same deformity he has.

And ‘The World Renowned Nose’ is about a naive cook whole sole aim in life is to have enough food to eat and to be able to inhale snuff. But one fine morning his nose starts to grow exceptionally. Though initially people were revolted by the sight, he later became a celebrity, because of his remarkable nose.

About why they chose ‘The World Renowned Nose’, Chandradasan, the director of Lokadharmi Theatre explains, “The mask workshop by Lokadharmi has more than 20 artists. ‘The Elephant Man’ does not require that many actors, so we thought about a play that can enable all the actors to have an acting practise and that thought lead to the Basheerian story.

“We thought about a story that could connect with ‘The Elephant Man’. First we thought about the tale of Ganapathi. Then Ganapathi’s nose is a natural protrusion, not something unusual. Then the satirical story of the cook of Basheer came to our mind. There is a strong connection between the two plays. For one thing both of them deal with the psyche of the life of two outcasts, caused by their physical deformities. Both deals with how they deal with the fame, when they become celebrities in an overnight,” explains Chandradasan.

In the play, the characters wear masks and speak gibberish. Chandradasan says, “Basheer is a person who has coined several new words that has no meaning in itself. That is one reason why we chose gibberish.”

Dr Terry says he is charmed by both the beauty of the Malayalam short story as well as the talent of the artists of Lokadharmi.

About the use of mask in the play, he says, “Mask has immense possibilities. Acting with mask is much more challenging than the usual acting. Since there is no expression, the artist has to rely completely on the body language, which itself makes it all the more challenging.”

The artists of the Lokadharmi says all this is a new experience to them. “Using mask increases the relation between the artist and the space,” says Charu Narayanan and Joly Antony.

Another actor Selvaraj says, “While wearing a mask, we leave our original face behind and have another face.”