Francoise Calvel and Abhija Sivakala stage an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty today

Everybody knows the story of Sleeping Beauty. For those who don’t, it begins with ‘Once upon a time…’ and ends with a prince breaking a curse placed on a princess.

Giving a twist to this story is ‘Once upon a time…,’ a play that will be staged by theatre artistes Francoise Calvel and Abhija Sivakala. “The story and the frame are identical but the characters are fleshed out better and they all come in shades of grey,” says Francoise, the director of the play.

Francoise scripted the play herself. She wrote it in French and then did a rough translation of it in English. There are 14 characters in the play and they are enacted by Francoise and Abhija. The characters are brought to life through change of voices, costumes, puppets and masks. “It is a tough play to enact as we have infused classical Indian dance, Kalaripayattu, shadow puppet play, pantomime… into the play. We handle the lighting and music backstage too,” says Abhija.

The set and costumes were made by the artistes themselves. “The set is in simple black and white. The puppets and costumes lend colour to the play. We wanted a set which was easy to dismantle so that we can travel around with it. In fact, if all goes according to plan, we might travel with our show to Kochi and Pondicherry, courtesy Alliance Francaise. The costumes we have used in the play are inspirations from the eighteenth century fashion scene and are what is widely used in performances of Commedia dell’arte, which I am trained in. Abhija, however, had to be taught the ways of Commedia dell’arte,” says Francoise.

‘Once upon a time’, will be staged at Co-Bank Auditorium today at 5.30 p.m. The programme has been organised by Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum. Entry is free.