Adishakti raises a toast in memory of their late mentor, Veenapani Chawla, with a month-long festival.
Even a casual conversation with an artiste at Adishakti will invariably include fond references of late founder, Veenapani Chawla—the mentor who helped shaped their philosophies. So on Chawla’s birth anniversary, they’ve left no stone unturned to commemorate their love. The second edition of the Remembering Veenapani festival will be a month-long celebration, with stage productions, concerts and dance performances by artistes from across the country. The festivities will kick off tomorrow, with the inauguration of a graphic wall project by Malavika PC, called Malviki Ramayanam: Excerpts from The Birth of Sita. The illustrator-cum-actor, who has been working on the project for two weeks now, says that since drawing comes naturally to her, she wanted to decorate the walls of Adishakti’s building with interpretations of the Ramayana.
Incidentally, the opening weekend will have performances by only women—with Nimmy Raphel’s Nidravathwam and Mumbai-based Jyoti Dogra’s Notes on Chai. “As gender equality was conceptually very dear to Veenapani, it came out very naturally in the curation of the event,” says Vinaykumar KJ, artistic director at Adishakti. Over the next few weekends, expect concerts by Bengaluru’s BlueRhythm (April 15, 8 pm) and Chennai’s Oxygen (April 16, 8 pm); Odissi dance by Vandana Supraja and Poornima Kartick (April 29, 7.30 pm); and plays like Jannal & Sithai Mark Seeyakai Thool by Chennai-based Anandsami (April 15-16, 6.30 pm) and Piya Behrupiya by Mumbai-based The Compani Theatre (April 23, 7.30 pm).
Till May 1, at Adishakti. Here below are a few others who are debuting their work in Pondicherry.
How Cow Now Cow
Sandbox Collective, Bengaluru
When you hear the word ‘cow’, the first thing that comes to mind is the beef ban. But director Vinod Ravindran says his play is not all about that at all. “It is a children’s play,” he laughs, explaining that it’s an idea that’s been with him for years. How Cow Now Cow is a simple story of a cow that has become a thorn in the sides of the other animals at a farm. Not promising an Animal Farm on stage, the director says, “What the audience can imagine, we can’t. So the beauty of the play lies in its simple plot that can be interpreted in various ways.” So what was the best interpretation he ever got? “Funnily enough, it wasn’t about the play. A seven-year-old asked me how it was possible for the people in the team to work with each other peacefully,” he recalls. “A tiny person asking me this got me thinking about how we even manage to exist together,” he signs off. April 24, at 7.30 pm
Faezeh Jalali, Mumbai
“The date had to be the title as it changed the life of a 19-year-old Iranian girl,” says Faezeh Jalali, the director. The story of Reyhaneh Jabbari—who killed an attacker who tried to rape her and was executed for it—the play explores reality and illusion, and the momentariness of life. Jajali wrote the play—which was demanding and required six-hour daily rehearsals to perfect—based on letters sent by Jabbari, emotionally-draining conversations with her mother and lots of research. She explains that Jabbari’s part will be played by seven women, so as to emphasise that this could be anyone’s story. April 17, at 8 pm
How to Skin a Giraffe
Here’s another title that is bound to grab attention. Inspired by the German play by Georg Büchner, Leonce and Lena, it has been adapted by director Rajiv Krishnan, who says he has added his own spin with music and characters. “On the surface, it a very simple story—about two people who run away to avoid an arranged marriage, but then end up meeting and falling in love,” he explains. Though it sounds very Bollywoodesque, he insists it is anything but. The multi-lingual play (seven languages, including English and Nepali) explores concepts of power, ennui, idleness and how people are puppets with little choice in their lives. “The larger picture is very comic,” he promises. April 30-May 1, at 7.30 pm