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DRAMA AS THERAPY: The staging of 'Theatre Therapy - the Memory Play.'
DRAMA AS THERAPY: The staging of 'Theatre Therapy - the Memory Play.'

LEENA CHANDRAN

'Theatre Therapy - the Memory Play' is a reflection of the trauma of modern man.

It was about the trauma of the modern man. The stage presentation of Adrienne Kennedy's 'The Dramatic Circle' by teachers and students of the School of Letters, Mahatma Gandhi University, in Thiruvananthapuram, received applause for its novelty of adaptation and technical deployment. First staged as part of the G. Sankarapillai Memorial Lec ture in Kottayam, the play was also staged at Vyloppilli Samskriti Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram. Enthralling the spectators with the unique charm of the Epic and Poor Theatre traditions, this free Malayalam adaptation of Kennedy's work is a true 'trans-cr eation' achieved by translator V.C. Haris (who played the lead role) and director P. Balachandran. Calling it'Theatre Therapy - the Memory Play,' so as to suggest the therapeutic function of the theatrical art, the whole play is made up of the warp an d woof of personal and collective memories, near and distant. The central character linking the different milieus is Suzanne who is awaiting the return of her husband David Alexander, an admirer of Frantz Fanon, the Black writer and philosopher. Interspe rsed with this story is the reading of Bram Stoker's Dracula and the solitude of Napolean on the battlefield writing love letters to Josephine.

Arena device

Abandoni ng the proscenium stage, 'Theatre Therapy' follows the arena device, thereby ensuring a closer bond with the audience. The stage props used are very few. Hurricane lanterns and electric torches in the hands of co-actors provide the lighting for the perfo rmance. "This," says Balachandran, "is an effort to relive the past through one's memories - an effort to retrace memory in a life engulfed by darkness." The play also redefined the traditional concept of the chorus by using it as a device to create i mages tantamount to the changing milieu. Portraying the individual caught in the whirlpool of his own past, the play becomes a reflection of the trauma of the modern man. Dr. Haris put up a brilliant performance as Dr. Freuden Berger (the crazy psychoana lyst under whom Suzanne undergoes treatment) and as the fictional Dracula, the doctor's dual persona. In spite of the lack of professional experience, the students could sustain the spirit of the play. Manoj Kuroor and Sreejith rendered the background mu sic.


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