Play it up, women

KOCHI: When all eyes are serenaded by just one voice in a play, the onus is entirely on the actor to enthral the audience. And that’s the charm of one-act plays. That’s where Shakespeare’s ‘all the world is a stage’ is reborn, for it is one person, in many guises, owning the stage and the audience.

Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi has organized ‘Ekanganankam’, a series of one-act plays by women. Voices of over ten women would be heard in Kochi, Thrissur and Kasargod.

Jisha Abhinaya

“’Eka’ is one and ‘Angam’ can be either translated as act or a battle. Either way, how I see these narratives are battles waged by women against the shackles of the society,” said N Radhakrishnan Nair, secretary of the Akademi. “Her life is a stage, she plays end number characters throughout her life. This is a tribute to the women whose voices are snuffed out by the screaming demands of a merciless society,” he added.

Radhakrishnan Nair said that this initiative would be a preamble to a possible project that he has on mind. “We need more women to grace the stage. More solo-act plays and dramas need  to make space for the woman’s perspective.”

There are 6 plays being held at Kochi over a span of three days. ‘Savithri’ is a solo-act written, directed and performed by Jisha Abhinaya. A sub-editor for a prominent news daily, Jisha runs a theatre group, ‘Abhinaya Nataka Samithi’, in Thrissur.

“The protagonist in ‘Savithri’ guards a cemetery, an uncommon job for a woman. She talks to the dead. Among the dead, there is a Dalit revolutionary, who was cremated alongside a weapon, which implies that they’re tormented even after their death. “The woman has to guard the cemetery from wolves who dig the grave to feast on raw meat, and when she kills them, she is blamed for it” said Jisha.

“It’s a parallel drawn for women fighting the injustice meted out to them. When they tackle it, they are blamed, yet again.” said Jisha.

Valsala Narayanan

‘Sharmila’ is another solo-act staged by director Navajith Narayanan, and the play details the life of the renowned living activist Irom Sharmila of Manipur. Valsala Narayanan, mother of the director essays the character of Sharmila. Tracing her life before the day of August 9, 2016, when she broke her 16-year fast, the play adds an interesting dimension.

“Taking Sharmila as a symbol of sacrifice, we have Hindu mythological characters like Gandhari, Draupadi, Sita and Urmila talking to her,” said Navajith. “Enacting a living legend was not easy. To have something plugged on my nose for ten minutes felt so uncomfortable. She had a tube going into her nose for 16 years,” said Valsala Narayanan.

Girish Karnad’s famed ‘Broken Images’ was staged on Wednesday by dubbing artist-turned-theatre personality Asha Devi, who translated the play into Malayalam. “It is a battle between a writer and her conscience,” said Asha Devi, founder of the theatre group, ‘Pennarangu’. “In Karnad’s play, the conscience is a video screen where the actor has a pre-recorded monologue. I replaced the video for voice,” said Asha Devi. In Kochi, the plays kick-started on Tuesday at Changampuzha park, and would conclude on Thursday.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express-

By Arathi Kannan  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 24th November 2016 05:50 AM  |  

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/kochi/2016/nov/24/play-it-up-women-1541899–1.html

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