The actor steps up from the basic
element, mud and clay and emerges to talk to the audience about his feat.
He describes his journey as an actor through various styles and genres.
He decides to do an exploration of his styles and selects to narrate the
story of how Dushasana was killed by Bhima.
To do this, he uses 3 levels – the lower earth from where he emerges, the
middle region which is where his characters place themselves and the upper
region which he reserves for his esteemed characters. He tells the story
of Bhima killing Dushasana by narrating and enacting the gory episode from
the Mahabaratha and then as abruptly, returns to his origins, using the
techniques of cloth acrobatics and yoga, koothu and a plethora of other
hails from a family of ancient therukoothu performers. He has served with
the repertory company Koothu-P-Pattarai for several years and has acted
in their productions since joining them. He's an expert in therukoothu,
thevarattam, silambam, thappattam and kalaripayattu. He works in cinema
and the animation company Pentamedia. He was awarded the junior fellowship
for young talented artists for 1998-2000 on theatre mask making, by the
Ministry of Human Resources Devt, Dept of Culture, Govt of India.
The director V.
Balakrishnan is an alumnus of Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts
and the prestigious National School of Drama, wherein he received training
from the finest teachers of international calibre, including stalwarts
like Naseeruddin Shah, Rashid Ansari, Dr. Anuradha Kapoor, Kanahiyalal
and Ram Gopal Bajaj.
He was later awarded the Charles
Wallace scholarship to attend the international residency for young directors,
hosted by the Royal Court Theatre, London. His plays have been performed
at the Stagerite Festival in Bangalore, Purusai festival and at the National
Theatre Festival in New Delhi.
He has acted in over 50 plays
in Hindi, English and Tamil, with the top directors of India, including,
Habib Tanvir, Baba Karanth, Ram Gopal Bajaj, Ranjit Kapoor and Devendra
He has worked with foreign directors,
including Mariuz Orski (Poland), Valentine Teplakov (Russia), Sue Weston
and Gorden (London).
The plays directed by him include,
Harold Pinter’s 'Ashes to Ashes', Sarah Kane's 'Crave', Girish Karnad's
'The Fire and the Rain', Delon Weerasinghe's 'Thicker Than Blood' and Anupama
Chandrasekhar's 'Closer Apart' among many others in Tamil, Hindi and English.
The storyteller is the actor,
character and the play itself. He decides the invincibility of a certain
character and demolishes other with a gesture of his hand. The killing
of dussasana is an episode from the Mahabharata where the hero bheema faces
flake for drinking his brother's blood. N. Muthuswany's script provides
allegorical insights into the mindsets of various characters that defend
there own convictions with extreme alacrity.
At the time of sunset, all oaths
and war cries lose their volume, right and wrong goes to rest it is only
more body bags needed. I chose to work with Palani on this script
seeing that his unbridled energy and enthusiasm required an objective view.
The trinity is closely associated with us Indians, and we decided to divide
our working space into lower middle and upper regions, which the actor
conquers with ease and confidence-the theatre of the gods. This is an actor's
quest to explore the use of his crafts to narrate a story without embellishing
it with unwanted ornamentation.
The Founder and Resident playwright
for Koothu-p-Pattarai, N. Muthuswamy is recognized
as the leading pioneer in experimental Tamil theatre. In 1969, his
production entitled Time After Time was hailed as the first modern play
in Tamil stage history. Since then, dozens of more plays have followed.
Born in Punjai, a village in Tamil
Nadu, Muthuswamy moved to Chennai in the late 1950s to work as a clerk.
It was here that the corrupting forces of urban life compelled him to reflect
on the relatively innocent and genuine nature of village life and customs.
Later, he began to write short stories on this theme. In the late
1960s, he abandoned prose to write for the stage, relying heavily on allegory.
The plays that began to take shape were driven not by a linear narrative,
but by a unique conversational logic that revealed the Playwright's penchant
for creating poetic and highly dramatic "pictures" onstage.
There followed eight years of
intense study of Theru-k-Koothu, the traditional folk street theatre of
Tamil Nadu, which left an indelible mark on Muthuswamy's concepts of theatre,
playwriting and theatrical training. These concepts led to the development
of his new theatre group, Koothu-p-Pattarai. His achievement was
to simultaneously revive traditional folk theatre and create a new idiom
for the contemporary stage based on movement and sound as the main vehicles
of story telling.
From the beginning, his plays
depicted the destruction of personal identity by popular consumer culture
through a method that infused folk theatre conventions, with a fresh and
contemporary significance. The folk theatrical devices of the narrator,
the mask, acrobatics and puppetry thus took on multiple meanings as intrinsic
parts of theme and dramatic structure. While Eugene lonesco's creative
output is typically viewed as an attempt to recapture lost innocence, Muthuswamy's
can be seen as a refusal to lose his innocence and individuality under
the fragmenting forces of urban life. The influence of his native
village Punjai therefore runs throughout many of his plays, revealing his
steadfast resistance to the city's narrow terms of acceptance and the intellectual
impoverishment of modern India and many of her historical choices.
Abandoning simple narrative plot,
as individual human predicaments are not his main concern, Muthuswamy paints
broad images of social and political transformation. Seeing the world as
more than just a simple catalogue of discrete historical events, this playwright
focuses not on the loss of Punjai and its ancient village-level innocence
but on the urgent need for its recovery and affirmation.