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    Experimental use of props and set designs set the mood for Short + Sweet theatre fest finals.

    FROM using steel pump covers as robot heads to a lightsaber used for a Star Wars inspired Hamlet scene, the plays selected for the Short + Sweet final round are pushing the boundaries with innovative properties and their experimental usage. Here we pick three from the 11 plays, for their unusual treatment of their sets — Set in the future, Chennai Pattinam 2065 is a play about how “technology isolates people,” says director Mathivanan Rajendran. While heads of the robots are made of steel water pump covers, their bodies are made of paper and wires, and faces with tubes and buttons. “(We) stole from everything in the dressing room and made it on the day of the show,” laughs Rajendran. Their entire set design, is just blocks that were available at the venue “which become different things during the play.”
    A Tale Of A Tall Girl, as the name suggests, is the coming of age  journey of a girl who is is rather tall. Following the natak mandli format, “minimisation of costumes and props becomes essential,” says the director Sunil Vishnu K. The two significant props used are an aluminum ladder and wooden frames. While the ladder is used to denote everything from a college staircase, a building structure and a cinema theatre, the wooden frames are used variously as a handbag, windows, pictures of Gods, a plate and binoculars.
    In Shakespeare – As You Like It, “Shakespearean themes and storylines (are) loosely used to talk about the concept of entertainment in today’s time,” explains director Bhargav Ramakrishnan. There are three actors playing multiple roles on a stage bereft of sets. The props are used to mark the change from one character to another. For instance a white cloth is used as a toga during Julius Caesar and a ghost during Hamlet. “Props lend themselves to be very irreverent in the play,” Ramakrishnan says while adding that Romeo and Juliet sequence is portrayed as a football match where Juliet is herself a football.
    At Alliance Francais. July 29 to31. Rs 200. Details: eventjini.com

    —Simar Bhasin

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