CHENNAI: It has humour, satire, smooth punch lines, a dig at theatre critics and political tidbits too. Two plays, Nagercoil Expressum and Naadaga Companyum have two things in common — the portrayal of human nature and the writer-cum-director Vinodhini Vaidynathan. The plays have been performed about eight times and will return to the stage on May 21 at Alliance Francaise.
When City Express caught up with Vinodhini, she was busy with rehearsals. “I wrote Naadaga Companyum last year. In 2014, I wrote Nagercoil Expressum (earlier called Sathur Santhippu) for the Short and Sweet Theatre festival,” she recalls.
Naadaga Companyum is an adaptation of Pammal Sambanda Mudaliar's Oar Oththigai. “I was asked to do a Tamil play last year. An adaptation of this play was the top choice. But more than adaptation, I’ve retained one part of the original play but added my own beginning and end,” says Vinodhini.
“A group of actors are performing a play, but the writer doesn’t explain why, and in the denouement, he brings himself into the script as a critic who comes to watch the play. I know it doesn’t make sense but it was written in 1925. I instead chose to target the theatre critics of the city,” she explains.
Though Vinothini has thick skin when it comes to criticism, she has no patience for newspaper critics. “Look, I can take feedback, but people don’t know what they’re critiquing. They just do it because they have a good command of English. It’s my opinion that they don’t understand theatre,” she retorts.
The other play, Nagercoil Expressum has a straightforward plot and is a full-length comedy. “I added myself into the script when it needed to be lengthened. Being both the director and writer has its perks. I can chop, edit, manipulate and improvise the script. I love improvisations and the last punch line in the play was introduced by the actor himself. Taking the play from paper to the stage is an organic process,” she says.
Vinodhini wrote her first play for the Short and Sweet Festival in 2011. She has worked with directors like V Balakrishnan and Na Muthuswamy. “Most of my inspiration comes from Muthuswamy at Koothupattarai. The Short and Sweet Festival gave me the platform to bring out my work. I have only written short plays that haven’t seen light yet,” she smiles.
Now, her crew of 13 is called Theatre Zero. Vinodhini is looking to write another short play for the upcoming Short and Sweet Festival. She is also involved in a few film scripts as well.
While Shankar and Chandru are getting acquainted in the Nagercoil Express, a strange visitor arrives — with an even stranger message for them. Do they heed the message? At what cost?
The Mambalam Originally Boys’ Company needs a makeover. With actors running away from film auditions and the same play being run for two years, things are in bad shape. Until one day, a drama critic is supposed to arrive, and then things start happening. Do the boys and their boss impress the critic?
(Catch Nagercoil Expressum and Nadaga Companyum on May 21, 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm at Alliance Francaise de Madras. For details call 28279803)