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Peep into an artiste's life

WHAT DOES an actor feel after nearly a dozen years in the field of the theatre? What does he learn along the way? How is his personality moulded and how are his personae created? What is the place of the artiste in the scheme of things?

K. R. Rajaravivarma tried to address these questions in "An Actor's Chaos" presented by Alliance Francaise of Madras and Magic Lantern at the AF auditorium recently.

The hour-and-a-quarter performance was split into five parts — practice, machine, compassion, Koothu and life — through which the actor explored his experience "in life workshops and the theatre."

"Practice" showed the actors' skills in martial art forms. The movements were drawn from Kalaripayattu, silambu, Taichi, yoga and modern dance. It was an effective way to begin the performance. In total stillness, as Rajaravivarma wielded the sticks, somersaulted and turned cart wheels with flexibility and grace, his training as a member of Koothu-p-pattarai theatre group was evident.

"Machine," based on the film "Ground Hog Day," revealed the mechanical nature of existence with everyday being mind numbingly the same. Like a robot, the man rises in the morning to the sound of the alarm clock, bathes, dons his clothes, gulps breakfast and sets off for work. The only variations are the events that occur on his way — a child pleading to retrieve his ball flung across the road or an altercation with a scooterist. After hammering away at the computer he returns home, reads the newspaper, watches the television and goes to bed. Then begins another day, the same way. Till he rebels at the monotony of it all. The humdrum nature of existence is an oft-explored theme in avant-garde theatre and the actor did not bring any fresh dimensions to it.

"Compassion," in which an actor helps another who is paralysed and bedridden, was a vehicle for displaying a range of expressions.

The Koothu segment that followed was the longest — it was far too long. Ravivarma enacted a portion of the "Panchali Sabadam," the Koothu he had learnt from the doyen Kannappa Sambandam of Purisai village. The actor donned many roles and the singing and acting were creditable.

"Life" had a few humorous moments. Rajaravivarma was supported very well by fellow actors M. George and K. S. Karuna Prasad, who also provided the music along with Ezhilan.

Highly fragmentary, "An Actor's Chaos" seemed more like a work-in-progress than a complete performance. The totality and cohesiveness of a well-directed effort were missing. The subject was interesting and possessed potential but much of it remained unexplored.

Perhaps if a little more order had been imposed, "An Actor's Chaos" could have been appreciated more by the viewers.

KAUSALYA SANTHANAM

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