Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hanuman Ki Ramayan: a nautanki-inspired perfomance encounter

Photograph: John Soans
In Feb 2012 we invited Dr. Devendra Sharma to conduct a workshop on 'nautanki' with artistes of our repertory.

The 2-day workshop was an eye-opener for most of us and it also inspired us to start working on a performance using this style. We were very clear that we did not want to re-perform or re-create any of the old nautankis as they are for adults and not for children and young people - our target audience. So we set about looking for stories that could be adapted into nautanki (swaang-geet). Finally Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik's Hanuman Ki Ramayan was chosen. The adaptation by Pt. Ram Dayal Sharma brings in the many nuances of nautanki and uses a wide range of verses in this short 35 min piece!

This entire journey seems like an experiment, not in the form but more an experiment on the artistes. Swaang-geet has helped us extend ourselves as performers and understand the unique grammar of an operatic form. Words in a song and words in operatic verse work so very differently. It would probably have taken us years to realise this, had it not been for this engagement with nautanki. I am sure this will influence our approach to text, especially verse.

Photograph: John Soans
Traditionally children have been a secondary audience during nautanki performances. In our play children become the primary audience and adults 'tag-along'. It is our sincere effort to share with urban audiences the 'ras' of theatre without any labels. For us it is as contemporary as any other performative form. Not folk or traditional or fossilised, but alive and vibrant... something with huge value to us as performers and our audience as 'rasiks'. 

Shaili Sathyu
Artistic Director
Gillo Theatre Repertory

1 comment:

Comments? Feedback? Opinions?