Plays Works of Kumaran Asan, ONV Kurup and Basheer came alive on the stage, thanks to Rangaprabhath’s initiative of using theatre to introduce the greats of Malayalam literature to children. Manu Remakant
T he Malabar revolt in 1921 came as a rude awakening for Savithri Thampuratti. She lost everything, including her loving parents. It was then that Savithri realised that the knowledge you earn through education is nothing when compared to the knowledge you earn from nature. The latter keeps you alive and helps you cope with setbacks in life. Between her and death stood Chathan, a ‘lower-caste’ youth and his love.
The scene was culled from ‘Duravastha,’ a play based on a poem of the same name by poet Kumaran Asan. It was staged as part of a trilogy presented by Rangaprabhath, the children’s theatre group, in Thiruvananthapuram recently. The other plays staged on the occasion at State Central Library Hall were ‘Amma’ based on ONV’s poem of the same name, and ‘Poovan Pazham,’ a short story, written by Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer.
‘Duravastha,’ well conceptualised by playwright Vibhu Pirappankode, had the Malabar revolt as its backdrop. The gripping tragedy of a Nampoothiri woman was adapted for the stage without losing the spirit of the time the story was set in. The narrative drew its essence from the poem and select lines from it were recited in certain scenes of the play. The predicament of Chathan as he is torn between the old and the new world was etched realistically by S. Anil Kumar, director of Rangaprabath.
Keerthi Krishna, granddaughter of K. Kochunarayanapilla, veteran playwright and founder-president of Rangaprabhath, came up with a splendid performance as Savithri. Dozens of children played various other roles in helping to recreate a bygone era.
‘Amma,’ the 15-minute play, which followed, captivated the audience with its theme and presentation. Directed by K.S. Geetha, artistic director of Rangaprabhath, the poetic drama tells the story of nine sculptors who live harmoniously with their families. However, when troubles come their way, one of them has to sacrifice his wife. Along with the nine brothers, the audience too wait nervously to see which wife meets her doom.
Athira sizzled in the title role of ‘Amma.’ Excerpts from the poem recited by K.S. Santhosh Kumar heightened the impact of the play. “We selected this poem to honour ONV Kurup,” says Geetha.
V.S. Sreekumar’s ‘Poovan Pazham’ was an adaptation of Basheer’s short story of the same name. Humour is the underlying thread of the story that revolves around a husband and wife. When the quarrelsome wife finally agrees that the orange her husband brings her is in fact a ‘poovan pazham,’ the audience was rolling with laughter. Her husband was wielding a big knife and the wife had no other option.
K.S. Geetha essayed the role of the wife, while Vamanapuram Mani played the role of the husband with élan. “Very few children read poems and stories these days. Through these plays, we try to introduce children to the best of our literature,” says Geetha.
For four decades, Rangaprabhath, the theatre group based at Venjaramoodu, has been at the forefront of developing activities for the holistic development of children by blending theatre and education. Theatre doyens like the late G. Sankarapillai and K. Kochunarayanapillai were the inspiration behind the unique venture.
Source: The Hindu