Monday, May 12, 2014

Viswavikhyathamaya Mookku @ Gramoslsavam kaniyankunnu, Aluva.

mookku at aluva  (36)As part of Gramolsavam (village Fest)  organised by AIYF and SYC, Lokadharmi performed the play Viswavikhyathamaya Mookku (the world Renoned nose) at kaniyankunnu, Aluva on 9th of May. Till the late eighties there were a lot of cultural activities and performances in villages all around Kerala.   The social and political organisations backed out from culture and theatre activities by the nineties when the new market ideology started ruling the social fabric of Kerala.  It is so happy to see that the local AIYF took initiative to have a 10 day  festival that included cultural activities, various kinds of performances,  sports events for the local people, and lectures and discussions on important social issues. it is with immense happiness that Lokadharmi performed our play Viswavikhyathamaya Mookku in that fest, amidst lack of proper facilities to stage a play. But the shows in such rustic rural atmosphere always pay the much needed impetus to theatre and as usual we found that the village audience is simply superb as usual

Viswavikyathamaya Mookku

A foolish, illiterate young man, works as a cook in a hotel. His only ambition is to make sure he has enough snuff to inhale. Something very strange happens to him on his 24th birthday. His nose starts to grow! Day by day, it continues to grow in length until finally it reaches his navel. People from everywhere arrive to gaze upon the extra-ordinary nose! The crowds become a nuisance for the house owner, and he is forced to fire the cook from the job. The cook sits in his hut for days without money food or to buy a pinch of snuff. The crowds keep queuing near his hut, but no one helps the pathetic young man. Finally, he gets furious and asks his mother to shut the door; so the crowd bribes his mother... Money started flowing to the mother and son. Soon they became very rich.

mookku at aluva  (32)As the long nosed man becomes famous, politicians hatch conspiracies to capture him. The ruling party wins his loyalty by giving him a title and a gold medal. The president supports and honours him. Soon, the opposition party begins agitating; violence and riots follow; they say the nose is actually a pseudo nose made of rubber! The man was arrested by the police, and his nose examined by expert doctors. The nose is proven real and this causes him to be nominated as a Member of Parliament by the president! But the opposition parties counter this by forming a United Front, and continue their struggle. Basheer’s point is that the incessant controversy generated by the nose is selfishly used by competing parties for self-driven interests. Ultimately, the general populace is shown as more foolish than the poor, former cook ever was.

The play uses masks and gibberish, supplemented with hilarious, grotesque and fast movements in the performance language. This 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 tools. Devoid of scenery, costumes, music, facial expression and the use of language, this production is challenging the actor to create, communicate and sustain the interest of the audience- an experiment in itself.

mookku at aluva  (14)The play is written by Chandradasan, based on the story by Vaikom Muhammed Basheer, and directed by Chandradasan and Terry Converse. (USA)

This was the 5th show of this play.

The artists performing  are Selvaraj, Jolly Antony, Johny Thottunkal, Anish Paul, Sujith Kollam, Shaiju T Hamza, Adithye KN, Tony Chacko Stanly, Bhanuvajanen, Sanoj Somarajan,Sreenandini J Prasad, Unnimaya Edanilath, Pradeep Sreenivasan, Shanif Marakkar, Madan Kolavil, and Sreedeep

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thathamaram @ IPTA fest Alapuzha.

Mazhavillu, the children’s wing of Lokadharmi is performing its new play Thathamaram at Childrens theatre fest organized by IPTA. The play will be performed at 7.30 pm on 6th May 2014 at KK Narayanan Smaraka Hall Velinilam, Kanjikkuzhi Alapuzha.

Thathamaram is written, designed, choreographed and directed by Chandradasan, with Bijibal M doing the music, Set & Properties by Bhanuvajanan, Costumes by Rema K Nair, Lighting design by Srikanth, Art by Shobha Menon, Live music by Kishore NK, Subrahmanian, and Niranj Madan, Sound by Jebin Jesmes, Direction Assistance by Shaiju T Hamza, and Media Management by Madan Kolavil.

This is the second performance of the play.

Thathamaram (The Parrot- Tree)

THATHAMARAM clicked by Abru  (303)This play is developed from a folk tale which is extrapolated to throw light into contemporary reality. The story is about a parrot tree which is mysterious in many ways; it speaks in unknown languages, whispers and cries, and has flowers with an incandescent smell that penetrates deep into the human cell. The tree says “I am a tree, am a bird, am the smell, and am the sweetness. Dreams of this native land are buried deep beneath me.” This tree epitomizes the archaic myths about a tree that grows in the far deep forest with its fruits used as medicine that cures all sorts of illnesses. It has a rhythm that ticks the natural cycles to vibrate and resonate mutually and keeps the life moving ahead. This tree is visible only to the wisdom of birds.

Once, the King of the land is infected with a mysterious illness, and somnambulism. As he dwells deep into sleep, malicious, evil and vicious spirits and creatures that were buried for ages underneath the earth are reborn and resurrected. They craw into the dreams of all and one and disturb the balance of life processes. Everyone else including the princess loses sleep… “The evil species danced around in ecstasy; hunger and famine spread all over. New diseases sprang up. Untimely downpour of heavy rain and incessant storm; holes appear in the sky…Earth gets sunburns … Seasons looses their rhythms; all calculations go off the track…Rainwater tastes bitter… Severe summer of tragedies…

THATHAMARAM clicked by Abru  (321)Princess could not sleep… The evil creatures danced around the princess day and night… she could not close her eyes for a moment… Suddenly, song of a little parrot that flew from the forest soothes the princess… The evil species cannot stand the bird’s song and they fly away from it. After a few days the parrot returned to the forest to visit her parents. Little parrot told her parents about the misery in the palace in her absence. To put an end to the wretchedness in the kingdom, the wise father parrot went deep into the forest and brought the mysterious mythical fruit that can heal any illness, sacrificing his life in this act. The little parrot has to gift this fruit to the King and on eating this; the trauma that had filled him and the nation will be cured.

On its way back to the castle with the fruit, the little parrot gets tired and dozes off for a while on a leafless tree. The evil species residing on the same tree spits venom and poison into the fruit. Then they rush to the palace and inform the king that the parrot is coming with a poisonous fruit to kill the king. The king in turn asks the little parrot to taste the fruit first, before he eats it. The parrot tastes it and dies. On the King’s orders, the dead parrot and the poisonous fruit are buried in a distant desert.

After a gap of many years, it rained continuously for three days in the desert, and then the parrot tree sprouted. It grew into a Tall Tree with enchanting flowers and fruits; but the people shy away as they are afraid of the poison...

THATHAMARAM clicked by Abru  (327)Finally an old couple depressed by loneliness and many diseases, arrives there, they decide to end their lives by eating the fruit of the tree. But to the dismay of everyone, the fruit did not kill them, but they were rejuvenated and freed from their agonies.

The play connects the experiences of the present day as well as of the past with the myths, hearsay, folklore, tradition, legends, cultures and the flora and fauna of Kerala. It reinforces the rhythmic continuity of human life with trees, birds, and other living and non-living entities. The story creates a world which flows between real, surreal and mythical; all fused together to form a plasma of magical, dream like fantasy. The story is narrated direct and simple in a transparent, poetic and candid style to create a cosmos of exuberance, earthiness, and fantasy, where various elements co-exist, mutually complementing and completing.

The performance uses music, songs, movement and choreography accentuated by the use of simple properties and a narration with simultaneous enactment and characterization. Use of imaginative sets, properties and music suggests the space, characters, time, as well as the cultural/ political implications of the play. The performance language is designed so as to give space for creativity and expression of the histrionic talent of the children, the whole process of rehearsal providing an exhilarating experience to the little actors; the scheme of rehearsal and play making being equally important as the final product.

THATHAMARAM clicked by Abru  (279)The Artists Traveling To Perform are Gowri Murali , Gouri Krishna A , Jeyasuriyaa M.A , Anju Joan , Malavika Murali , Krishna Radhakrishnan, Rose Sherin Ansary , Arun A , Hemanth Menon , Unnimaya Edanilath , Jayabhami Jayachandran , Ashin Xavier , Ramakrishnan Lokanathan , Chelcy Johny , Unnimadhav Edanilath , Yedhukrishna K.V , Niranjana Kishan , Saswath Gopan, Bhanuvajanan , Kishore Nk , Subrahmanian, Niranj Madan, Jebin Jesmes, Shaiju T Hamza, Jolly Antony and Chandradasan.

The other plays in the fest are

05 May - Marthandante Swapnangal, (written by Thuppettan,) and Kentoniyans ((written by NP Rajesh) both directed by dir- Arunlal and M.parthasarathy, performed by Little Earth theatre Malappuram,

7th May - Puzha Parayum Kadha (written and directed by Joseph Antony, performed by Little IPTA Velinilam.

8th May – Vidaran Madikkunna Pookkal, written by Vayala Vasudevan Pillai, directed by KV Ganesh, performed by Thrissoor rangachethana

9th May – Bhoomiyude Avakasikal, based on Vaikom Muhammad Basheers story, directed by CP Maneksha, performed by Uzhuva UP School, Pattanakkadu

10th May – Ravanaputhri – based on vayalar Ramavarmas poem, directed by Joseph Antony perfoed by KA Chandrahasan Smaraka Nataka Padana Kendram,

11th May – Pather Panchali- written by Suresh Babu Sreestha, directed by Sunil G Vakkam, performed by Gramika Nataka padana Gaveshana Sangham, Thiruvananthapuram.

THATHAMARAM clicked by Abru  (267)

Photos by Abru Manoj

Thursday, May 1, 2014

SL Puram award to Prof.S.Ramanujam

S RamanujamProf S. Ramanujam has been selected for the S.L. Puram Sadanandan Puraskaram for 2013, Minister for Cultural Affairs K.C. Joseph has said. The award comprising of Rs.1 lakh, a citation and a memento is the highest award by the government of Kerala for drama and Theatre. Ramanujam was being honoured by the award in view of his contributions as a playwright, director, and teacher of theatre. Ramanujam has also worked immensely in developing and nurturing children’s theatre in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Born in 1935 in the village of Nanguneri in Tamil Nadu, Shri S. Ramanujam took a Master’s degree in English before obtaining his diploma in drama from the National School of Drama in Delhi in 1967. He then worked as a Lecturer in Fine Arts at the Rural University in Gandhigram up to 1977, moving thence to the School of Drama at Calicut University, where he was Assistant Director till 1985. In his final assignment as a teacher, Shri Ramanujam was Professor and Head of the Department of Drama at Tamil University, Thanjavur, where he served up to 1995.

Shri Ramanujam has worked all through as a director on the stage, with over fifty productions to his credit in Tamil and Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, and English; 36 plays in Tamil, 28 in Malayalam, six in English and two in Hindi. Karuththa Deivathe Thedi in Malayalam, Variattam in Tamil, and a Telugu version of Bhasa’s Urubhangam are counted among his major productions.

“Karutha Deivathai Thedi” (In Search of the Black God, 1979 written by G.Sankara Pillai and produced for CULT, School of Drama Trissoor) is a milestone production in the history of Malayalam theatre, and it dealt with the theme of how one searches for God outside while he is within.

‘Veriyattam’ was a powerful adaptation of Euripides’s ‘The Trojan Women.’ The play transferred the Greek classic effectively to a Tamil setting through “opparis” (laments) and the use of Tamil folk performing art forms. The rhythm of Tappatam, a death ritual, was used as the background.

He has written a dozen plays and adaptations, published several books on the practice of theatre in Tamil and English, and contributed numerous papers and articles to seminars and periodicals. Shri Ramanujam has also worked actively to revive traditional performances such as Thapuattam in Thanjavur, and reconstruct the lost temple theatre form of Kaisikapurana Natakam.

His connection with Malayalam theatre was born of his association with veteran G. Sankara Pillai. Ramanujam was assistant director in School of Drama, Calicut University. “There are numerous good playwrights in Malayalam. The theatre has grown in Kerala because people read plays as literature whereas here they mainly read short stories.”

Ramanujam has written extensively on modern Tamil theatre and conducted numerous workshops in both Tamil and Malayalam. He was instrumental in catalysing changes in the parallel theatre of South India in the past three decades. “Thanks to the parallel theatre movement, world classics do not remain as literature but are brought on to the stage; the value of traditional drama is also realised.” He says with satisfaction. The strong point of Ramanujam is his ability to utilise his actors’ talent to the maximum.

His ambition is to weld children’s theatre and theatre for the aged. “I want to make elderly people participate in children’s theatre and infuse joy into their lives.”

As for the distinguishing feature of his work, “Many feel I have lost out by not belonging to particular school. But each play of mine is different from the other. My mind is not imprisoned in a pattern or form. Innovative method or design is the distinguishing feature in my approach to the theatre,” says Ramanujam, who has trained three generations in theatre skills.

His directorial ventures include “Ponnumkkudam”( by G. Sankara Pillai), “Thangakkudam”, “Chempavalakkali”, Na. Muthuswamy’s “ Naarkalikarar”, Indira Parthasarathy’s “Kaala Enthirangal” and “Mazhai”, Max Frisch’s “Andorra”, “Agniyum Mazhaiyum” (Girish Karnad’s “The Fire and the Rain”), and “Uravum Ullamum” (based on Oscar Wilde’s “Selfish Giant)

I feel so happy and proud to be part of the committee along with Soorya Krishnamoorthy (Chairman), Joshy Mathew, Sahitya Akademi secretary R. Gopalakrishnan, and Culture Secretary Rani George, that decided to bestow SL Puram award to Prof.S.Ramanujam,

Among other honours, Shri Ramanujam was conferred the Professor Sankara Pillai Award in 2001. He was elected a Fellow of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy in 2002.