Once theatres were the whistle blowers of the society. But now a trend setter. ‘Lokadharmi’ explores the new possibilities in art and culture | Radhika C A
Theatre was not at all a new found space for Chandradasan. In fact he inherited the proud heritage of theatre from his village, where every emotion was entangled with creativity.
Mannackanadu, a village near Pala, Kottayam is blessed with an abundance of art and literature and gradually the place sowed the seeds of art in the mind of a young man named Chandradasan. His tryst with the blessed skill started while the unknowing man was a silent spectator during the initial days. But fate had something in store for him.
As years passed by, he became conscious about his skills and later he came to meet some like minded art aficionados. In 1991, the twenty-five theatre enthusiasts joined Chandradasan to form ‘Lokadharmi’, a Centre for Theatre Training, Research and Performance in Kochi and the rest is history.
In its twenty-one year long history, ‘Lokadharmi’ voyaged through the different realms of art and culture. A group of dedicated talents and their intense passion for the art remains the basic strength of this prominent group.
“We don’t want to make huge money out of this. All we need is to bring a change in the theatrical attitude of the society,” said the actor-director Chandradasan. The prime idea behind the group is to nurture the talents of those who could not go for formal theatre education or take it as a full time career.
The intense training and brainstorming sessions with renowned thespians help the Lokadharmi performers to delve deep into the subject. The contemporary adaptation of Karnabharam, Chathankattu (Indian adaptation of ‘The Tempest’), Macbeth, Medea and Madhavi (written by Bisham Sahni) are a few among their major works. In many of the plays theyperformed, Lokadharmi dealt with the current social and political scenario of the world. Sometimes the heroes and heroines in the play are the common men who struggle against the cold shouldered authorities or sometimes who strive to succeed through their bold actions and statements. ‘Elephant Man’ or Gaja Manushyan , the play written by Bernard Pomerance is the latest one in the green room. As the name implies, the story depicts the tale of a disfigured man and how he strives hard to survive in society.
‘Draupadi’, the latest play from Lokadharmi group gained many accolades from all strata owing to its relevance of theme and its unique presentation. Though a number of plays were written centered on this character of Mahabharata, the group made a discrete attempt to carve out a unique image of the ‘Pandava’ queen. Here, the incarnation of womanhood is picturised as the representative of a bold yet frail woman and the dilemmas she faced in her life. To maintain the continuity of the narrative, the same performers appear as different characters. In the play, the director uses ‘masks’ to convey the vibes and aura of the male characters. This unique concept was introduced by Prof. Terry J Converse, an expert in mask characterisation who came to work with Lokadharmi for his six-month-long Fulbright Scholarship in India.
While conversing about the metro theatres, Chandradasan firmly said that a wide fissure is there between the metro theatre and reality. “Of course the metro theatres are doing a good job; still the presence of actors makes it more glam. On the other side, the realistic theatre would reflect the travails and plight of the common man”, he said with a smile. “In fact the best theatres are still in the outskirts of the city and the real dramas are happening there,” he added. The man behind the theatre explosion never believes in mass audience. “The prime concept is to convey the essence of a play to each and every person watching the show. A small audience makes the session more interactive and this will end up in brainstorming ideas,” says the artistic director.
The cultural training centre also runs a children’s theatre group named ‘Mazhavillu’ on weekends at Changampuzha Park, Edapally. The group comprises children aged between ten to seventeen who have got ardent taste for theatre and arts. They assemble under a tree named ‘Natakamaram’ for their improvisation of theatrical activities. Now Chandradasan is working on a children’s play entitled ‘Thattha maram’ (parrot tree) that would soon be staged.
Like his works, he is overt and real in all sense. “In the present scenario, we cannot live only with our play. We should join some other jobs to sustain our life and passion,” says Chandradasan, who works as an Associate Professor in Chemistry at St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam. Our theatre includes head load workers to professionals,” he added.
Now ‘Lokadharmi’ is on a mission to get a permanent venue for their cultural activities.” It was not economically viable and now we are etching out the plan”, beams Chandradasan. “Of course, it would be in the outskirts of a city- a small venue which can accommodate a small audience,” he fades off. His dream becoming a reality is not far away
Courtesy Yentha.com On Feb 22, 2013