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The Lady of Burma returns to the city stage

Based on Richard Shannon’s dramatic account of Aung San Suu Kyi, The Lady of Burma is portrayed on stage by Rukmini Vijayakumar, city-based danseuse and actor. Vijayakumar teamed up with Prakash Belwadi (veteran thespian) for this emotionally-driven story of the Nobel Prize winner with plans to take it on tour across the country.

Writing history
“Around three years ago, Prakash and I began researching books and news articles about her because we wanted to portray a contemporary woman of strength along the lines of Evita. We stumbled upon this play by Shannon that we felt was ideal. We stick to the original script, but we stage it very differently,” shares Vijayakumar, adding that they are in touch with Shannon who has even  mentioned this contemporary work in interviews abroad.

Vijayakumar describes the play as one that follows Suu Kyi’s personal and political journey from ‘an emotional perspective’. “The tricky thing about portraying and dramatising political figures is that it tends to become like a documentary. Shannon has put her in the narrative so you see her personal and  emotional side while she is still portrayed as a woman of strength,” Vijayakumar explains, citing examples of reticence, loss, anguish and pain that the imprisoned leader faced for over two decades.

On stage
The performance, using only two stools, two ropes and a flag as props, is carried entirely by Vijayakumar, who often slips into various other characters, including that of a spider. “There really is no dance or musical element in the play except for the introduction in which I perform a contemporised Balinese dance. So, Prakash included a few more movements to suit me in the play but other than that, it’s all about the acting,”  Vijayakumar tells us in conclusion.

July 12 and 13. At Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield. Tickets (Rs. 250) at bookmyshow.com

—Susanna Chandy

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