A one-hour presentation on Scandinavian mythology by Margareta Larson and Jan Erik Strom was an eye-opener for theatre buffs.
`We will be presenting a play tomorrow at 4 p.m. here; we invite all of you.' An announcement from the Swedish theatre outfit attending the 19th Koodiyattom festival at Natanakairali Auditorium came as a pleasant surprise to all. It was to express their gratitude to Natanakairali for giving them an opportunity to experience the Koodiyattom fete. Natanakairali has had a symbiotic relationship with theatre groups of the Scandinavian countries for long. Over the years scores of artistes from these countries have been coming to Irinjalakuda to participate in workshops and festivals organised by the institution. A one-hour presentation of `Edda' by Margareta Larson and Jan Erik Strom embraced a narrative style that was as singular as its leitmotif.`Edda' is the most authoritative source of ancient Nordic mythology. Of its two sections, the `Poetical Edda' is a collection of 34 Icelandic poems interspersed with prose. These anonymous poems use alliteration and simple strophic forms. Recorded during the 13th century from an older text, it is considered the oldest lyrical work belonging to the period before Christianity came to Scandinavia. Through the interplay of a horde of characters, including gods, goddesses, human beings and other beings, the poems give an account of creation and the past.
Recreating the past
`Edda,' a seeress, recollects the formation of a drop of water, the origin of life, through the combination of two opposites - cold and heat. She describes the `golden age of paradise' when peace and harmony flourished between gods and mankind. The advent of the seeress Gullveig disturbs the peace, marked by the onset of a period of strife that leads to chaos and destruction of the world of gods. The verses relate numerous plots, deceptions and cold-blooded murders. But the denouement gives much hope as Edda glimpses the birth of a new world through her visionary power.What captivated the audience right from the beginning was Margaret's ingenious art of story telling. Her non-stop narration of the verses was accompanied very often by the manipulation of certain stage props that were minimal. Erik Strom, Margaret's companion of the stage, was almost a vidushaka. He never uttered a word. But the language that his body spoke provided a wholesome visual narration of drama. He deftly embellished the story with a stock of vintage musical instruments such as lyre, animal horn, and bells. Said Margaret after the play, "The play is a striking paradigm of man's dependence on myths that help him to make the world more comprehensible. The myths of earlier generations can teach us to see the present in a wider perspective." And Scandinavia is a region where myths are aplenty.