The moral dilemma of Kunthi, the Queen Mother in the Mahabharatha, has stirred the imagination of writers and artists in all ages. ‘Eatho Chirakadiyochakal’, based on G Sankara Kurup’s play by the same title, is a contemporary theatre adaptation portraying the emotions at battle in the unwed mother’s heart.
Sankara Pillai, pioneer of experimental theatre in Malayalam, has used the metaphor of ‘the sound of fluttering wings’ in the original text to describe the sense of anxiety and guilt that haunts Kunthi. The new adaptation also harps on the unsettling sound of the wings of conscience as a premise from where the inner monologue is let out. The play is directed by Sam George, who describes himself as a ‘self-taught theatre practitioner. He has earlier worked with theatre groups like ‘Abhinaya’ and has directed the Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Three Penny opera’ for the UAE Malayali Association.
“The play is adapted into the framework of contemporary theatre and uses shadow puppetry, painting, instrumental music and lighting extensively as its idiom,” says Sam. “The turmoil in Kunthi’s mind is akin to that of any unwed mother who is forced to give up her child to escape the tyranny of morality codes. The taboo over children born out of wedlock has more or less stayed intact despite the passage of time. In this play, the hallucinations of Kunthi are treated as a psychic condition. The sound of the fluttering wings therefore attain psychological bearings that reflect the revolts of the female heart,” he says. Shadow puppetry is used in the play to re-create the events that are constantly played out on the stage of Kunthi’s memory.
The solo act is performed by Shylaja P Ambu, a theatre person with more than two decades of experience. “The most challenging part of the solo performance is to convey the conflicting emotions that rule the protagonist’s mind. I have found the support of music and lighting quite helpful in emoting,” says Shylaja who holds a graduation in music. She has worked with theatre directors like S Ramanujam, Deepan Sivaraman and D Reghoothaman.
The music of the play has been composed by Paris V Chandran alias Chandran Veyattummal, who has carved a niche in India and abroad as theatre musician. He has collaborated with the famous travelling tour company ‘Footsbarn Theatre’ based in France apart from other European theatre groups. He has also worked as music director for Delhi’s National School of Drama. Light design has been done by Sreekanth T and Premjith Sureshbabu has designed the puppetry and paintings. The play will be staged at the Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan on March 24 at 6 30 pm.