CHENNAI: The second edition of the five-day South Indian Peoples’ Theatre festival began on Wednesday, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The festival is being organised by Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, along with Madras Kerala Samaj and is being held at Kerala Samaj at Kilpauk, Chennai, from October 2 to 6. There are 34 theatre groups performing for the festival, including groups from the interior parts of Tamil Nadu.
Over 500 theatre artistes are participating. The inaugural event was attended by Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, K Pandiarajan, Carnatic singer and activist TM Krishna, actor Sachu, director Pa Ranjith, Minister Su Venkatesan and poet Devendra Boopathy, among others. The plays touch upon a variety of sensitive topics including caste, class, gender and language among others. Actor Rohini, who has co-curated this festival, along with artiste Pralayan, said, “We have lined up plays that common people can relate to, as this is a people’s theatre fest.”
The festival focusses on Veedhi Nadakam (street plays) highlighting the endemic theatre-culture in South India. Among the theatre groups from Chennai are Pearch, A Mangai’s troupe, Prasanna Ramaswamy’s group, Pralayan’s Chennai Kalai Kuzhu and more. In honour of popular theatre personalities like playwright Girish Karnad, Na Muthuswamy of Koothu-P-Pattarai and veteran star Manorama, festival organisers have named each stage, where the plays are set to take place, after them.
A photo exhibition named after writer Gnaniwas was also displayed outside the auditorium. From October 3, every morning from 9 am to 10 am, the directors whose plays were presented the previous day, will be available for interactions with the audience. The first edition of the festival was held in Thanjavur.