Play of realities, in light and shade
`Sadrusavakyangal' explores the many shades of black and white that comprise reality.
THE FRONTIERS OF REALITY: `Sadrusavakyangal' won the Platinum Jubilee Award of the Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad.
When one dances before a lighted lamp, two realities can be seen. One, the dancer himself and then, the shadow he casts on the wall. This relation between two parallel realities is the soul of `Sadrusavakyangal' (`Parallel Lines'), a play by Gopan Chidambaran, which was staged in Kochi recently. This sequence appears at a key point in the play, as a vision seen by Barbara, or Baro as she is called.
In a world of mundane realities, Baro, the protagonist of the play, is obsessed with her visions. She sees the world from the other side. And people, including her mother Mariya, think that she is insane.
In another scene, Baro tells Sevi, her neighbour, to look at the sky from a different perspective, that "we are all fish under the water and lights overhead are there to attract us to the nets."
In fact, the Biblical theme of the Virgin Mother remains as a strong subtext of the play.
Mariya moves around with her "mentally unstable" daughter from one place to another, earning a living as a domestic help. The lives of mother and daughter remain parallel most of the time, crossing each other only occasionally. When Baro becomes pregnant, the father of the child, a local thug, refuses to accept it. Mariya then tries to terminate the pregnancy by employing a midwife. But Baro continues with her pregnancy in her world of fantasy.
Here, Gopan uses verses by Father Johann Ernst Hanxleden, popularly known as Arnos Pathiri.
While staging the play, Gopan used drawings by German artist Kathy Kolwitz and those by Seema, wife of Santhosh, who was the associate director of the play, as multi-media presentation.
"This was used as a prop for the actors on stage, rather than as a tool to take the play along," said the director. At times, the drawings projected on the screen at centre upstage became another property, as also the musicians seated on the stage. These innovative uses of space, in a way, prevented the play from descending into melodrama. Molly Joseph, a Chavittunatakam artiste, was refreshing as Mariya. She infused her character with a dose of realism, complete with a heavy West Kochi accent.
"Realistic acting tagged to a particular regional dialect is still untapped, except perhaps in northern Kerala. I tried to experiment with that in this play," said Gopan.
Molly's acting was in contrast to that of trained actors like Arya K. Ravikumar as Baro and Vijayakumar as the thug Luca. Both the actors maintained a consistency in their character delineation, while Molly was often reacting to the events as they unfolded on the stage.
As their lives take a plunge for the worse, with all semblances of sanity and stability vanishing, Mariya tries to salvage their lives by taking her daughter to a prayer convention.
Lost in another world
The last scene shows Baro and Mariya returning from the prayer convention; While Mariya struggles to keep pace with her daughter, Baro remains lost in her world. Steadily increasing the distance between them, Baro starts walking along the silver parallel electric lines on the sky. For Baro, they are paths opening to the sky. As a helpless Mariya looks on, Baro continues her ascent.
The play had won the Platinum Jubilee Award of the Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad and was presented in association with Bank Employees Art Movement Ernakulam (BEAME).
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