The ‘Thrissur Nadaka Sangam’, a theatre group, in collaboration with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, has been staging two plays this season. One is called ‘Theatre Sketches’, while the other is a periodical play, ‘Chakka’. The plays have been staged at several venues in Kochi, Kottayam and Thrissur, throughout November and will continue till the middle of December.
“The concept of an anthological play has been there for several years,” says Jose P Raphael, who plays major characters in both plays. “Each play lasts for 10-15 minutes. Short plays can be easily staged in the courtyard of houses, since simplicity is their unique feature.” adds Jose who has been associated with theatre for the past 25 years.
In ‘Theatre Sketches’, there are 12 short plays taken from the works of the stalwarts of theatre like Anton Chekov, Rabindranath Tagore, Kunjunni Mash, Jayaprakash Kuloor, and Jose Chiramal.
There are two plays of Tagore namely, ‘Sookshma Charcha’ and ‘Post Office’. The name of the Chekov’s play is ‘Adhikamaayal’, while ‘Shinkidi’ is Kunjunni Mash’s play. There are also three plays of Jayaprakash Kuloor, ‘Cylinder’, ‘Kva Kva’ and ‘Paalam’.
“The play ‘Paalam’ is based on the tug-of-war between an angler and a policeman,” says Jose. “What makes their quarrel unique is that they communicate through gibberish language. Both the plays of Tagore are marked for their profound language. Based on the theme of feudalism that existed in Kerala, Kunjunni master’s plays are loaded with dialogues.” He adds that it was Jose Chiramel, who coined the term, ‘Theatre Sketches’ years ago.
The major challenge confronted by an actor while playing an anthology piece is that, the same actor has to do several characters, within a short span of time, says Jose. “But it is an excellent acting workshop,” he adds.
This play that has been written by M Subramanian Namboodiri aka Thuppettan years ago, is relevant even now, for the topic it deals with. The play which unfolds the story of two jackfruit traders, touches on subjects like the advent of globalisation and the monopolistic policies of the government.
“There are two local jackfruit traders, namely, Muthari and Chakkachan, whose meagre business gradually starts flourishing. Pothachan, a rich trader, gets jealous and spreads a rumour that those who eat jackfruit will get AIDS. He makes scientists declare so, and the humorous events that follow, forms the crux of the play,” says Jose.