Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gowri Ramnarayan Retrospective on 2, 3, 4 July


Play, Direction, Design: Gowri Ramnarayan

What passions blaze in the hearts of young men in a sleepy village in Tanjavur zillah when a beautiful firebrand, a Calcutta-returned Pudumai Penn (New Woman) brimful of reformist ardour, enters their lives? In a rollicking musical comedy based on a short story by Kalki Krishnamurti and recalling the height of the Indian independence struggle, Rural Phantasy, Gowri Ramnarayan reimagines the nationalist era in 1940s Tamilnadu through drama, music, dance, and visuals inspired by popular posters and period “talkies”.

Sutradhar V Balakrishnan
Nati/Shakuntalai Akhila Ramnarayan
Calcutta Ranganatham PC Ramakrishna
Village Men Nand Menon, Venkatesh Aadhithya, Vignesh Balaji, Azar, Siddhant Venkatesh, Vijay Ram
Village Women Anjana Anand, Sunandha Ragunathan, Radhika
Vairavelan, Sunitta Menghanaani, Gaayathriy Satchithanandar, Alicia Stephen, Soumiya Balasubramanian, Anusha Venkatraman,
Maithreye Murali
Shyamanand Chaterji Varun Aiyer
Vocals TM Krishna & Sangeetha Sivakumar
Violin Amritha Murali
Mridangam Arun Prakash
Music Direction Gowri Ramnarayan
Dance Direction Anjana Anand
Lights TV Sridharan
Sets Michael Muthu
Production Manager Shruthi P Atmaram
Props Shruthi
Backstage Venkat S, Neha Balthazar, Sunitta, Shruthi

Play, Direction, Design: Gowri Ramnarayan

“Is there a civilised way to wage war?” broods Mahendra Pallava, the playwright and philosopher-king whose realm is terrorised by a vast Chalukya army. Inspired by Kalki’s novel Sivakamiyin Sapatham, and the sculptural marvels of Mamallapuram, Flame of the Forest front-stages Mahendra’s quandary and the tragic romance of Mamalla, the Pallava prince and the court dancer Sivakami through dialogue, music, and dance. The play raises vital questions about the role of religion, politics and art in a war-torn world that resonate with greater force today.

Mahendra Pallava V Balakrishnan
Paranjoti Senior PC Ramakrishna
Paranjoti Varun Aiyer
Sivakami Senior Priyadarsini Govind
Sivakami Anjana Anand
Pulikesi Vidyuth Srinivasan
Jaina Monk/Mamalla Siddanth Venkatesh
Buddhist Monk/Courtier Nand Menon
Kapalika/Courtier Sunandha Ragunathan
Kapalika/Courtier Venkatesh Aadhithya
Bharavi/Kapalika Yogi Sheejith Krishna
Kamakshi Akhila Ramnarayan
Shatrughnan /Courtier Vignesh Balaji
Courtier Alicia Stephen
Temple Dancer Maithreye Murali
Chinnappan Vijay Ram

Music Gowri Ramnarayan
Vocals TM Krishna & Sangeetha Sivakumar
Violin Amritha Murali
Mridangam Arun Prakash
Veena Sriram R
Dance Choreography Manjari, Priyadarsini Govind, Sheejith Krishna
(Jati in Sivakami’s court performance by Bhagavatulu Seetarama Sarma)
Lights TV Sridharan
Sets Michael Muthu
Production Manager Shruthi P Atmaram
Props Sunitta Menghnaani
Backstage Venkat S, Neha Balthazar, Sunitta, Shruthi
Direction, Design: Gowri Ramnarayan
Can fame corrupt the soul? Dismissed as a wastrel, Kalidasa, a young cowherd in a remote village, finds his only support in young Mallika, who persuades Kalidasa to accept a royal appointment as Poet Laureate in Ujjaini. Years later, a destitute Mallika sees a drenched, dishevelled Kalidasa stumbling into her home again. Can they make a new beginning?
Six scenes from Kalidasa classics (Sakuntalam, Kumarasambhavam, Meghasandesam) interlace this production of One Day in Ashadha, written by the modern Hindi playwright Mohan Rakesh and translated by V Ramnarayan.

Sutradhar/Anuswar Siddanth Venkatesh
Nati /Sangini Shruthi P Atmaram
Mallika Akhila Ramnarayan
Ambika Sreelatha Vinod
Kalidasa V Balakrishnan
Dantul Nand Menon
Matul PC Ramakrishna
Nikshep Vidyuth Srinivasan
Vilom Varun Aiyer
Rangini Sunitta Menghnaani, Alicia Stephen
Anunasik Vignesh Balaji
Priyangumanjari Sunandha Ragunathan
Kalidasa’s Characters (Dancers) G Narendra, Anjana Anand
Music Gowri Ramnarayan
Vocals TM Krishna & Sangeetha Sivakumar
Violin Amritha Murali
Mridangam Arun Prakash
Dance Choreography G Narendra, Sheejith Krishna
Lights TV Sridharan
Sound Harish Swaminathan
Costumes Lakshmi Srinath
Sets Michael Muthu
Production Manager Shruthi P Atmaram
Props Maithreye Murali
Backstage Venkat S, Neha Balthazar, Maithreye, Sunitta, Shruthi


The three plays in this retrospective each belong to the ancient, medieval and modern world.

But my protagonists, whether firebrand nationalist Sakuntalai (1940), philosopher king Mahendra Pallava (7th century) or the poet Kalidasa (circa 4th century), face the same questions. They grapple with unexpected violence, wondering if faith in ideals, hope for lasting harmony and peace, and trust in the healing power of art, have any meaning in the midst of oppression.

We too wonder. Can violence be resisted at all? How do we deal with loss and loneliness? Is there any solace for pain? Are beauty and compassion as real as terror and suffering? Can serenity be reached in a blasts-riddled world?

In this retrospective, the actors, musicians and dancers explore these perennial issues, resonating with a chilling urgency in our modern world.

Gowri Ramnarayan


Playwright-director Dr Gowri Ramnarayan is Deputy Editor with the national English daily The Hindu. The author of five plays, she has served as vocal accompanist to Carnatic musician MS Subbulakshmi, authored books, translated two plays of Vijay Tendulkar, and been a member of the Fipresci Jury of critics at international film festivals in London, Venice, Valladolid, Oslo and Mumbai. Her first play Dark Horse won two national awards (Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, 2007, Best Innovative Music and Special Commendation, Best Play).


The oldest English theatre group in India, The Madras Players celebrated its golden jubilee in 2005. Having produced over 250 plays, the focus of the group today is to celebrate Indian writing and Indian playwrights.
This is the first time The Madras Players present a three-play retrospective of a contemporary playwright.


JustUs Repertory was launched in 2005 to produce new work blending music, dance and drama, to explore the staggering weight of historical, political and literary pasts which theatre must engage in, to represent the complexities of contemporary existence.

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