Technical wizardry in Tamil theatre has come to stay as Thodarum... shows.
Prayatna, the drama troupe that was started as a tribute to actor V. Gopalakrishnan, who lived and breathed theatre till the end, completes 10 years of service to the Tamil stage and is entering its second decade. To mark the occasion the troupe inaugurated its new play, ‘Thodarum...’ written and directed by K. Vivekshankar, last evening (February 23, 7.00 pm), at Narada Gana Sabha Main Hall, Alwarpet, under the auspices of Karthik Fine Arts. ‘Thodarum …’ is being staged consecutively on Feb. 24 (today) for Narada Gana Sabha, Feb. 25 for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, and on Feb. 26 for Brahma Gana Sabha, at the same venue, at 7.00 p.m. on all the days. None of the shows are ticketed. Hence theatre enthusiasts can download invites from the website www.kvivekshankar.com or call 98410 44517; 98414 33965.
“Gopalakrishnan was my mentor,” K. Vivekshankar, the writer and director of ‘Thodarum …’ begins. “And invariably our new ventures open on April 29, the day that marks Gopi’s anniversary. This is the first time that certain constraints have made us deviate from the norm.” So beginning with ‘Uravugal Dot Com,’ in 2001, Prayatna’s inaugural plays have always been on this date.
“A beginning, not an end,” goes the intriguing tagline of ‘Thodarum,’ and Vivek promises a visually captivating theatrical experience for viewers. “We are pooling in the best resources both on the artistic and technical fronts to ensure complete satisfaction for theatre lovers,” he says.
A stage play in the horror genre is a rarity. “Yes, for nearly 30 years now, it’s not been an oft-traversed path. I wanted everything about the landmark play to be new. Hence I’ve opted for horror this time. The setting of the story is Kinnakorai, a hill station. So special effects with snowy forests, rocks and mountains will be accommodated on a 30 feet stage,” smiles Vivekshankar. The visual treat of ‘Thodarum …’ should be something to look forward to. And it comes with surround sound effect – features you don’t normally find in stage plays. “It isn’t gory horror that you’d get to watch. It’s astute all the way, and fare that young audience should find engaging,” Vivekshankar emphasises.
Vivekshankar’s yen for innovation came to the fore earlier in Shraddha’s maiden attempt, ‘Dhanushkodi,’ where the story happened amidst thunder and rain that poured incessantly on stage! “I’m always a part of Shraddha’s attempts too,” he laughs, though he has staged half dozen plays with his Prayatna, including ‘Narendra.’ Interestingly, Shraddha activists such as Shivaji Chaturvedi, T.D. Sundarrajan and Prema Sadasivam and Girish are also part of the cast of ‘Thodarum …’
Vivek has envisaged ‘Thodarum …’ as a play that continues without a break. The purpose? “The duration is just an hour and 40 minutes. And if we allot time for intermission, it could pull the audience out of the mood of eeriness that has been set. We can’t afford it,” contends Vivekshankar.
The highlight of the four-day event will be the live webcast of the play on February 25, under the auspices of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, between 7.00 pm and 8.45 pm., for the benefit of Tamil theatre lovers throughout the world. “Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, president of the sabha will inaugurate it. As far as my knowledge goes, this is a first-of-its-kind endeavour in Tamil theatre,” he signs off.