CHENNAI: Stepping into the high-roofed rehearsal hall of Naveena Koothupattarai, you can almost hear the voices of the play that you are imagining in your head. The worn out floor and the oddly placed props lay as silent witnesses of gritty talent and hours of effort. This is where the team of Feathers series rehearse for upto six hours a day to perfect their art. CE met directors and actors of the Feathers series that’s going on this week at Alliance Francaise. Sitting in a patch of filtered sunlight from the window, one of the directors, Jagadeesh Kanna, says, “The Feather Short Play is a series of plays which was conceived by three theatre companies — Vaayusastra, Naveena Koothupattarai and Theatre Paradiso. We started in July 2016 and have presented six series so far. We cover a lot of themes like romance, paranoia, slapstick humour, etc. We are inspired by real life stories and rely greatly on improvisation.”
The team presents one or two series every month with seven or eight plays as a combined effort. “Vaayusastra, which is headed by me, is a group aimed at combining techniques of aeromodelling with theatre in a format which is easily explainable to kids. Since I am an aeronautical engineer who happened to be passionate about theatre, I tried to combine both the skills,” he adds.Naveena Koothupattarai, set up in 2014, is headed by Athira Pandilakshmy who is the most experienced theatre artist in the team, with more than nine years of experience.
“Naveena Koothupattarai aims to combine old and new aspects of theatre in an agreeable fusion. We also nurture budding talent and help them grow as artists... If a play lasts 10 minutes, we give chances to college students and homemakers, but if it’s an hour long, we look for experienced full-time actors,” says Athira adding that her aim was to provide a permanent stage for artists so that they can practise regularly apart from only participating at festivals.
Theatre Paradiso, which started in 2016, is headed by Karthik Shridhar, an IT professional and a budding producer with a passion for theatre. He won the best actor award for his part in the play Andha moondru naatkal at the Maham Festival last year. He has since clubbed with the Feather series which proved to be a successful collaboration.Initially the Feather series received a lukewarm response but by Feathers series six, which was presented solely by kids, it had a 70-80 strong audience. The team so far has experimented with shadow play which conveys story using shadows controlled by backstage actors behind a white screen and a combination of traditional and modern theatre with puppetry. This time they are planning to use black light theatre which unfolds in darkness and is seen with the help of glow paints. Talking about child artists in Feathers series eight, one of the actors, Nilambika says, “We have planned a play set which has Hitesh of Richie fame in the lead.”
Another director, Chandrasekar further lays out the brief and elaborates: “We have a play named Phoenix which is a metaphorical shadow. Voices is a psychological romance drama with paranoia as a concept. Gillidandi is a thriller set 2,000 years ago while Secret is a shadow play which revolves around romance and child abuse. Meelavattam is a feel good romance drama and Naay odi poche is straight on slapstick humour based on confusion arising from a dog and a girl sharing the same name. Then we have Operation P exploring humour. Lastly, we have Janalloram which is an intense emotional drama.”
What the series is about...
Feathers series this year includes a team of five directors — Jagadeesh Kanna, Karthik Shridhar, Athira Pandilakshmy, Chandrashekar and Praveen and a long list of actors who have presented over 70 plays at the Short and Sweet Film Festival. Some of the names of their plays are in English but they all use Tamil language and cater to the local audience.
For details, call 9884426098