BENGALURU: Many of us have grown up hearing tales from Panchatantra, the stories have been told and retold to us several times and in various ways. But have you ever wondered how the blue jackal got blue? Or what happened to the mischievious monkey who got caught between the log? Or how the crocodile managed to eat the monkey's heart? Panchatantra Retold...three stories with a twist, attempts to answer some of these questions.
This retelling of the Panchatantra is a new exploration of the classic Panchatantra stories, the Blue Jackal, the Monkey and the Wedge. The play was presented for the first time on May 2017 and the team has presented 30 shows already, in Bengaluru and in Delhi.
Director of the play, Rebecca Spurgeon says that the play is a collective of stories and is evocative of stories that are deeply rooted, that we Indians can relate to. She says,"When I was putting together children’s show I was thinking of stories that children would love. My version of Panchatantra is to make it dramatically interesting and to make performable stories. We have taken three stories that everyone has heard of. We have taken liberties, taken some details and changed it around."
Filled with shadow play, music, storytelling and physical theatre, this is also a way to introduce children to the tales and character of the Panchatantra.
Rebecca further goes on to say, "When you make a children’s show it is important to incorporate a certain element into the show. You need to give them a story that moves from point a to point b. For a lot of them this will be their first play, we are aware of that responsiblity. Of encouraging children to stay and develop an interest in watching plays. We did think a lot into that. Panchatantra is an easy choice, there are lot of characters, it’s a great source really, for a piece, if you are looking at it."
As the term 'twist' in the play title suggests, the team looks at these stories with a little bit of a difference. Moving away from the black-and-white way in which we have heard the tales, they also bring real world happenings into the story. An actor of the play, Bhavana Rajendran explains, "There’s a little bit of twist in the way the end is presented to the children. We’ve tried and brought in some important elements that are happening in the world today. We show how the homes of animals are being destroyed by the buildings that are coming up."
Bhavana plays the role of the jackal and the monkey in the three stories. The actor says there was a lot of preliminary preparation required to fit into the characters roles, she says "We have worked on our body extensively. We have worked with the way we move, the way we bend down and all of that. Before we picked the stories and short-listed these three stories for children. We went through workshops, using situational devices, with jungles and animals and people with forest and with all that. We went through about two and a half and three weeks of training and explored different ways to represent a jungle and the animal kingdom."
What: Panchatantra Retold...three stories with a twist
When: May 25-27