Transformation from a woman to a theatre performer can’t happen in a fortnight. But some members of State Kudumbashree Mission have been going through this transformation through a training in theatre by ‘Nireeksha’, the lone women’s theatre group in the state. Kudumbashree Mission has sought Nireeksha’ s assistance for training members of ‘Rangashree’, its newly-formed group for arts and culture.
“We are mentoring them in all aspects of a stage performance, from carpentry to make a stage to direction and script writing so that they can organise a play on their own. The theme, the music, the dialogue and the issues narrated are local. It is an attempt to reclaim local music or dance or whatever ethnic treasures that we deliberately lost, as well. There would be ‘Vanchippattu’ or tribal song or ‘Velichappadu thullal’ of Kodungallur Bharani in the plays scripted by these women,” says Nireeksha president E Rajarajeswari.
Fifteen days’ training at ‘Samrudhi Gramam’ in Vengola near Perumbavoor mentored the fifteen women from various Kudumbashree units of Alappuzha and Ernakulam in almost all aspects of stage performance.
“Staying away from home for fifteen days seemed impossible for the women at first. Some said that they would leave soon. I told them that the doors are open and you can leave anytime, but stay back for two days just to get an idea. After two days, no one was willing to go and the days here in their life were something that never happened before”, says artistic director of Nireeksha Sudhi Devayani.
There was training in Kalaripayattu and polishing of hidden talents like that in singing ‘Vanchippattu’, as well.
Nireeksha trains Rangashree members of six districts by dividing them into three regions. Ernakulam and Alappuzha form one region, Pathanamthitta and Kollam the second and Kannur and Malappuram the third.
Training for Pathanamthitta region will commence in September and that for Kannur in October. Training will be given in editing, visual media techniques, lighting, music composing and recording in different phases once the first level of fifteen days is completed. The Kudumbashree members who got trained by Nireeksha would train other members of their units and that would go on. The venues for the plays penned and directed by the women would be streets and programmes organised for the cause of social, public and environmental issues.
“It is women who spearheaded and got involved in many agitations in the state like in Plachimada and Vilappilsala. The plays through Rangashree would highlight local issues using possibilities of theatre. When the issues are narrated by women, there would be more integrity,” says Sudhi.
The theme of the play evolved from the training at Vengola is the story of woman who, in spite of going through all sufferings of life which her mother had also gone through, emerges successful in life.
“Now, I have no inhibition to face audience or to perform in streets. After my school and college days this was the first time that I got a platform to exhibit my talent,” says Jija Shiju of Nilampathinji, Kakkanad.
The experience is the same for Omana Raghavan, who is also a member of Kainakary grama panchayat, Alappuzha, Sinny Joseph of Ernakulam and Vijayamma Vijayan and Lathika Arumakumar of Kainakary or any other participant of the camp.