Art

The Mimers Trivandrum’s experiments with physical theatre bring on stage some dynamic displays

A scene during a performance of ‘Prithviraj Chauhan’

A scene during a performance of ‘Prithviraj Chauhan’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Formed in 1992 by a group of passionate mimers, the collective has so far brought out over 150 productions, says its director S Sreekumar

A valiant Prithviraj Chauhan in white costume, his flowing black hair wiggling about, dukes it out with Muhammad of Ghor who’s characterised in black. It’s an epic battle for supremacy. But Prithviraj is eventually conquered, taken prisoner and his eyes gouged out. Though blinded, the 12th century ruler exacts his revenge.

It’s not an aberration that The Mimers Trivandrum, a professional mime troupe, chose to look into the annals of history than scratching the surface of turbulent contemporary times for a performance during the recent national mime festival, Echoes of Silence, held in the city. “As a performance art, our central idea is to explore a theme or subject that allows for maximum scope for expressions. Prithviraj Chauhan, which premièred at the India International Mime Festival in Kolkata in March, served the purpose. It’s also our latest production,” says S Sreekumar, theatre artiste and director of The Mimers Trivandrum.

An advocate by day and a mime artiste by night, Sreekumar and his coterie of mime enthusiasts, mainly school and college students, have been experimenting with the physical theatre form, often breaking the conventions in their quest for realism. Formed in 1992 by a group of passionate mimers, the collective, which has about 30 active members, has so far brought out over 150 productions, from succinct two-minute performances to those spanning over an hour.

“The Mimers Trivandrum was formed by six of us from our college (University College) mime team that came on top in State-level competitions a couple of years in a row. We started the group so as not to lose the momentum even after college,” says Sreekumar. Though performing and teaching are their forte, The Mimers Trivandrum also present skits and plays.

Perhaps, their most noted production is The Football, a 16-minute long take on the life of a footballer. Conceptualised in 2015, it features dynamic movements, mimicking how the action unfurls during a match. “This realism is reflected in the costumes as well, with the characters donning soccer jerseys and boots. Instead of white paint, here we go for pancake make-up that facilitates sharper facial expressions. A football player may go through a gamut of emotions – elation, frustration, anger, aggression – in just less than two hours' time during a match. So the high-octane choreography is in line with the theme,” says Sreekumar.

Though the thrust is often on stretching the limits of expressions, social messages are not overlooked. Some of their performance have touched upon topics such as misuse of science (Cloning), importance of education (Aksharam), abuse of natural resources (Pani Pani Re), dowry system (Kanya Pooja) and so on. Make-up style and costumes are also cherry-picked accordingly. “That depends on the subject and the theme. Sometimes, the traditional white skin mask is used, at other times simple and direct make-up in such productions where navarsas are key,” says Sreekumar.

Sonu Surendran, who’s been part of The Mimers Trivandrum since 2008, says what distinguishes the collective is their productions that lay emphasis on speed. “High energy is our hallmark and that’s all the more evident in our mimes such as The Football,” he says. Rehearsals are often conducted at their studio in Vellayambalam. “We, at times, practise at some of the open spaces in the city,” says Sonu. Recruitment to the group is often done through talent spotting by instructors during training sessions in school and colleges.

The group staged a play, Yellamma, based on the Devadasi system, earlier this year during the Soorya Festival and Sreekumar says the collective’s upcoming productions include a mime version of the play.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 12:21:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/the-mimers-trivandrums-experiments-with-physical-theatre-bring-on-stage-some-dynamic-displays/article27147152.ece

Next Story