THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To create a play based on a tale that originated in the 19th century France and stage it in India - When actress Anne Bressanges and dancer Nancy Boissel Cormier approached Guihard Estelle, the director, she decided to make it a dance-drama with the accompaniment of live Indian instrumental music in the background. “They wanted to work together for the play. And I chalked out a dance-drama format for them to enact,” she says. The germination of ‘The Seed Giver’ happened thus. It shows both Indian and French influences and has the accompaniment of mellifluous Carnatic music. Three instruments, morsing, ghatam and ghanjira are played by Souri Rajan, who is well versed in playing 19 instruments. The actors, director and the musicians are all connected through the beats and rhythms they bear in common.
Estelle feels honoured to stage the play here. “The story is sincere and touching. It is very simple,” she says. The story occurs in a mountainous region in South France in the 19th century. There, men who set out to fight for the freedom of their place did not return. Women, who waited for two long years, took a decision to make the man who comes to the area their common husband. The play is the original story of Violette Ailhaud, who narrates the experience she went through. She had written it down for her grand-daughter, Yveline, to read.
The plot proceeds in such a way that one of the actors, as Yveline, goes into the story of Violette. The spirit of the grandma, is another character that comes on stage. But for theatre she has to change the order of the text to keep the suspense. Ask her if the man finally arrives and she will explain with a smile that “theatre is a playground for kids. So there should be some suspense till the end.” The play presented in French has the subtitles in English shown behind.
Highly moved by reading Mahabharata, the great epic of India, Estelle set out for India to see the land of its origin. It was 12 years ago that she, highly influenced by the amazing tales, came to Chennai.
Once she was here, in her words, it was the “discovery of India”. She checked out various festival forms in Tamil Nadu, learned filmmaking, Carnatic music, violin and Kalaripayattu. When asked whether her liking for Mahabharatha is there in the play, she says, “may be you can say that the women are waiting for Krishna”.
Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum in association with the Embassy of France in India staged ‘The Seed Giver’ at Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan on Sunday.