Theatre

A dream come true

Cicily Joy Photo: K. Ragesh   | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh



Like all theatre artistes in Kerala, Cicily Joy has been dreaming about winning a Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi award. Her dream has now come true! An actress in professional theatre for the last 35 years, she won the award for the best actress for her portrayal of Kunjithachumma in ‘Ntuppuppakkoranendarnnu’, an adaptation of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s eponymous novel.

“I remember seeing my mother reading the book in our home at Pala when I was a little girl, I could not even read its title properly. Little did I imagine then that the play would one day help me win an award that I so much wanted,” says Varkala-based Cicily, who was in Kozhikode recently.

She came to the city along with the cast and crew of ‘Ntuppuppakkoranendarnnu’ for enacting a few scenes of the play at Basheer’s house at Beypore. “It was quite an amazing experience, acting out the scenes at the place where the legendary writer lived. There I saw a caricature of Kunjithachumma and every one told me that it bore a striking facial resemblance to me! It was as if I was destined to do that role,” she says.

She adds she owes a lot to director Manoj Narayanan for making that role a memorable one. “He could get the best out of an actor and he would show exactly how I should speak or move on the stage. He is one of the best directors I have ever worked with,” says Cicily.

The play also gave her an opportunity to work with KPAC, the best-known name in Malayalam theatre. “Years ago, Thoppil Bhasi had invited me to act in a KPAC play, but I could not because I had other commitments. I have worked with many other prominent theatre troupes such as Kalidasa, Sooryasoma and Athulya. Finally, I could add KPAC to the list as well,” she says.

Cicily herself had owned a theatre company along with her husband, Varkala Joy, and son, Bimal Joy, both actors. “We sustained our troupe, Bhoomika, for 22 years but could not continue it because of financial reasons. Theatre is not a profitable business; unless a play becomes a big hit, you are bound to incur losses,” she says.

It is because of the passion for theatre that she continues to be on the stage. “I have acted in a film (as Prithviraj’s mother in Nakshathrakkannulla Rajakumaran Avanundoru Rajakumari) and a few serials, but there is nothing like acting like in a play. I have been able to do several strong roles over the last couple of decades, but unfortunately none reached the competition stage for the Akademi awards,” she recounts. It was her elder brother James who put Cicily on the stage for the first time. “He used to do female characters in amateur plays as few girls were willing to act in those days. I remember watching him act as the heroine in many plays. He was very good at it. So he was my first guru in theatre,” she says.

While acting in her brother’s troupe, she got an offer from Geetha Theatres, Changanassery. Before long, she found out that theatre was her life. “My first role at Geetha was that of a nurse in a play called ‘Moham’. It was a big success. When I found that I could make a living out of theatre, I decided that I would not do anything else,” she says.

Making a living from theatre, though, is not easy, she adds. “We are paid only a fraction of what actors in films or television serials get. Somehow organisers of cultural programmes are not willing to pay reasonably to theatre troupes, though they are willing to spend a lot on music shows. That has to change,” says Cicily.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 9:01:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/A-dream-come-true/article13986292.ece

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