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With fresh flavour

KOOTHU-P-PATTARAI IS very much into clown theatre. Having undergone workshops by Anmol Vellani and others, the group has presented quite a few productions in this style in recent years.

Among them are Ionesco's "Macbett", Na. Muthuswamy's "Tenali Raman" and Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar's "Chandrahari".

"Paramarthaguruvin Kathai" is the theatre trust's latest production. The script by Muthuswamy is based on "The Adventures of Gooroo Paramartan" by the great Tamil scholar A. P. Joseph Constantio Beschi, popularly known as Viramamuni.

The event, a work-in-progresss, was jointly presented by the Alliance Francaise and the Koothu-p-pattarai at the former's premises on December 23.

"Paramarthaguruvin Kathai" was written by the scholar with the aim of ``bringing out the true flow and strength of spoken Tamil.''

He threaded together enjoyable tales from a wide variety of sources such as Aesop's fables, local folk tales and Italian literature to provide a feast of humour in a style that is at once simple and colloquial, elegant and spontaneous.

Muthuswamy too has been keen in his adaptation ``to keep in mind the poetic rhythms of ordinary speech.'' Ch. Jayarao, a member of the Koothu-p-pattarai trust had directed the production . Jayarao displayed his directorial and acting talent recently through his performance of Muthuswamy's play "Appavum Pillaiyum" at the Alliance Francaise.

A few potted plants on one side and the head of a multicoloured drag on which could pass for an Ayyanar horse comprised the simple props in "Paramarthaguruvin Kathai".

The play began with the old maid at the ashram introducing us to the characters and the way they pass their time in endless, highly meaningful discussions as for instance— the grazing habits of an Ayyanar horse. Soon the five disciples and their master are seen wending their way through the forest.

The men cross the river and presuming one of them has drowned, as each one forgets to count himself, they set up a great wailing. A wayfarer literally mints gold as he `restores' the lost man to them. The attempts to procure a horse for their guru and the dispute over the rent to be paid for the shade provided by a cow were some of the other episodes covered.

"Paramarthaguruvin Kathai" is full of native humour and a rustic flavour which have a direct appeal. But for a work that rests on dialogue and uses various dialects, the delivery of lines and the pronunciation were nowhere near satisfactory. Except for a few actors who spoke their lines with confidence, the others seemed swamped by the effort. It was a pleasant change to see the actors costumed in a realistic mode except for the wayfarer who wore the clown's attire. But it was as if the artistes had attired themselves to the hilt and not perfected the act. As for the target audience, if the play is for adults it needs to have more depth and if it is for children, it needs to communicate in a clearer fashion. Great skill and imagination are needed to make such simple stories sound fresh and have the viewer watch them with involvement. The best part of the show was Sunderamurthy's expertise on the folk instruments.

K. S.

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