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SRAVASTI DATTA
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preview Re:play weaves traditional Indian games, history, mythology and personal anecdotes into a performance

Indian traditional games, Indian history and mythology merge in an experiential theatre performance, combining rhythm, movement and colour. Re: play , directed by Aruna Ganesh Ram, artistic director of Visual Respiration, and performed by Ujwal Nair and Supraja Narayanaswamy, will be staged in the city.

“The idea of devising the piece happened in London, where I was doing my Masters. I had read an article called Games People Played . I had also downloaded a game app, Shakuni. All this made me wonder about the impact of games on our lives, the interplay between past and present. I had even grown up playing traditional Indian games and have been fascinated by the objects associated with them, such as cowry shells, marbles etc. It got me thinking how I could centre a performance on games,” says Aruna, who holds a Masters in Advanced Theatre Practice from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, United Kingdom.

The next step involved research, the process of which led her to discover other interesting information. “A lot of traditional games are connected to Indian mythology and Indian history. Shakuni, of The Mahabharata , defeated the Pandavas in a game of dice. Abhimanyu had tried to navigate the chakravyuh. Akbar used to play parcheefi which is very much like Ludo and Chanakya played Chaturanga, which is chess.” Aruna weaved in personal anecdotes related to games in the piece too. “People shared their experiences playing with these games.”

Aruna then brought in a third element. “Since playing a game involves more than one person, I thought ‘why not include the audience in the performance?’” The audience participate in the performance, and thereby influence it.

There have been 10 shows of Re: Play in Chennai and three shows in London. The setting of the play is non-linear. “I have used the traditional Indian dice as a structure for the play. The dice governs the performance, in a way. The numbers one to six of the dice influence the performances. Even though there is a non-linearity to the performance, the audience will be able to connect the dots.”

Re:play has a powerful visual element. And is a performance the audience will engage emotionally with. “The play is structured around gaming itself. So there’s predictability versus unpredictability; winning versus not winning. Since the performance is a duet, the concepts of the binary and even of harmony have been explored.”

Rhythm, movement and pattern are the other aspects to the production. “This is experiential theatre. The elements of touch, feel and even smell are in it too. I want the performance to appeal to more senses than just the eye and ear.” There’s a bit of speech in the performance. “It has storytelling that is visual, gestural and immersive,” concludes Aruna.

Re:play , devised by Visual Respiration, based out of India and Singapore, will be staged at Atta Galatta, 134 KHB Colony, 5th Block Koramangala, on November 29 at 7 pm, November 30 at 2.30 pm and 7 pm and December 1 at 2.30 pm and 7 pm. Tickets available on bookmyshow.com. Call: +91841302016.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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