Make time for Chennai Art Theatre’s midnight binge special

(Clockwise from left) Stills from 'What's the Matter', 'Under Pressure', and 'Kathirvelan Kanakku'

(Clockwise from left) Stills from 'What's the Matter', 'Under Pressure', and 'Kathirvelan Kanakku'

Amidst the prevalent viewing-marathon culture (courtesy Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the like), Chennai Art Theatre’s B Charles had a brainwave — why not do the same with theatre? With the third edition of the Theatre Binge coming up, he is attempting something that has not been done here before. Drawing from the folk style of therukoothu , which sees performances begin as late as 11 pm and carry on well into the next morning, the fest, on November 9, is taking on a midnight avatar. “There are so many theatre events now, and I wanted the Binge to stand out,” he says.

A late night show

With four full-length plays lined up, the first show begins at 4 pm, while the last starts at 10.30 pm and is expected to go on past midnight. The opener for the evening is a Tamil play, Kathirvelan Kanakku , by city-based theatre group, Gurukulam. Directed by Karthik Gowrishankar, the core of the 60-minute play is a conversation between two strangers who meet at a bus stop. “We have looked at issues like abusive relationships and closure, but the primary intent is to say that one person can give different experiences to two people,” says Gowrishankar.

This will be followed by Anitha Santhanam’s What’s the Matter , at 6 pm. Centered around the dynamics between the maternal matrix and patriarchy in society, the hour-long solo will see Santhanam explore ideals and feminine norms through movement and dance. Under Pressure , scheduled for 8 pm, examines climate change, consumerism, indigenous wisdom and the politics of nature. Directed by Aruna Ganesh Ram, the piece has elements of physical theatre, poetry and storytelling come together in 90 minutes.

The last performance for the night is the première of Masquerade Theatre’s mystery thriller, The Wailing Maid Junction . Also a 90-minute piece, it is directed by Krishna Kumar (known as KK), and has eccentric stationmasters and doppelgangers all looking for the answer — is there a parallel universe? “It draws from surreal experiences that aren’t paranormal, but are rather based in the realm of imagination. It is inexplicable, and one must watch the play to understand what we are getting at,” he explains.


There will be breaks in between the plays for the audience to grab food, but Charles maintains that no latecomers will be allowed into the venue, as a mark of respect to the actors. Over the last two editions, the Binge fest, which has had groups like Crea Shakti and JustUs Repertory perform, has steadily seen an increase in spectators. “The first season, we had about 60 people who stayed back till the last play. In the second edition, there were 90-odd people,” says Charles.

The crowd, he adds, does not only include members of the theatre circuit, but also the general public who are interested in the topic that is being staged. “The idea is to look at it as you would at a late night film. Instead of a movie at 10.30 pm, come and watch a performance at the Binge,” he signs off.

Midnight Theatre Binge begins at 4 pm on November 9, at Alliance Francaise. Tickets at ₹200 on

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 11:35:18 am |