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For the love of theatre

THE STATE drama festival that concluded in Thrissur on February 20 was a celebration of experimental theatre. Theatre groups from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod participated.

Women's issues

Many of the plays revolved around women's issues. Ranga Chethana, Thrissur, staged `Kooduvitta Kili,' an adaptation of Ibsen's `A Doll's House.' It depicted the ingenious manner in which the macho world imprisons a woman's soul. The persona of a woman, as a bird in the golden cage of domesticity, gets stifled and smothered by the demands of patriarchy. Yet, she is strong enough to break the cage and fly away.

`Madhavi,' a Malayalam translation of a Hindi play, by Bhishm Sahani, which was presented by Cochin Theatre Group, kept the audience spellbound.

This iconoclastic play questions the very basis of the Indian concept of dharma. Each scene depicts different stages of Madhavi's life - daughter, lover, wife and mother. At each stage, she is sacrificed by man for his glory in the name of duty. This is a universal theme in the Indian context and it was powerfully portrayed. The casting and the music were skilfully handled. `Bayen,' a story by Maheswatha Devi is rooted in the Bengali rural ethos. The theme depicted the plight of women driven mad by social convention. Different forms introduced variety in the festival. `Poovampazham' by K.M.K. Smaraka Kala Samiti, Kasaragod, resurrected Basheer's short story. `Aayanchery Valyesman,' by Mukham Grameena Nataka Vedi is in the mould of folk theatre that was popular in the Forties. It was portrayed through Vellari Natakam.

Malayalam version

The Malayalam version of Ionesco's `Chairs' showcased the Theatre of the Absurd. `Palangal' by Abhinaya dramatised a poem by Ayyappa Paniker. Performing arts, traditional classical and folk, were used to caricature the unholy alliance between, money, power and force. The structure is like a collage.

`Puranadi,' by Kavalam (Lokadharmi) deals with a dark chapter in our history. In those days when gods ruled through oracles, human sacrifice was the norm.

PADMA JAYARAJ

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