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Analysing the stage

G. JAYAKUMAR

Raja Varier's studies on theatre are reflected in his plays and his work as an actor.


The actor becomes a medium communicating with the viewer through facial expressions, body language and voice. Raja Varier



STAGE PRESENCE: Raja Varier in `Durabhangam.'

Raja Varier holds no brief for people who ask him about his likes and dislikes instead of queries on his method of acting.

" A self-analysis of his performance will not only help the actor better his skills but also provide guidance to students of acting."

An accomplished actor and researcher in stagecraft, Raja Varier graduated from the School of Drama, Thrissur. After his post-graduation in theatre from Central University, Hyderabad, his thesis for his doctorate was on the aspect of stylisation in Kavalam Narayana Panicker's theatre.

Stagecraft

Raja Varier points to Kavalam as one of the first to have used stagecraft to extract more meaning out of the written lines of a play. "And the actor who gives form to the character is an important part of the stage. The actor becomes a medium communicating with the viewer through facial expressions, body language and voice."

An analysis of acting could throw up several interesting sidelights. For example, it is said that actors bring out the suppressed emotions within them. So, when a shy person is made to act the character of an extrovert, he might give a superb performance. This is known as anti-type casting. There are instances when many great actors have given such performance, Raja Varier adds.

Theatre and music

At present, Raja Varier is doing post-doctoral research under the guidance of Omanakutty on `Theatre music - a study,' with special reference to Kerala classical theatre.

"Other than the actor's voice, many forms of sound are used while staging a play. Music is one of them. Silence also playa a part. Then, there is what is called non-sound. Non-sound is not silence but a prelude to sound . If used properly , it can be quite effective.

"My research includes the study of the use of the musical instrument mizhavu in Koodiyattom and Nangiarkoothu. Bharatha mentions some geetams in Natyasastra - exit, entry, mood creation, body movement and so on. The music of the mizhavu is able to enhance the expressiveness of these aspects.''

Raja Varier has authored several books . One of them on folk theatre, titled `Kakkarissi Natakam,' has been prescribed for undergraduate study in M.G. University. A collection of articles dealing with the performing arts, `Samskritiyude Laavanya Roopakangal' (Aesthetic Forms of Culture ) was aided by a grant from the Department of Culture. Another is `The Legacy of Padayani' to be brought out by the State Department of Information and Public Relations.

This year Raja Varier 's theatre productions include:

G. Sankarapillai's `Karutha Daivathe Thedi;' Vylloppilli's `Kudiyozhippikkal;' and `Durabhangam' (an adaptation of Bhasa's `Oorubhangam') in which he acted as Balaraman, Draupadi (Amma theyyam) and Bhima.

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