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Reflections of women

Many stories, one stage.Photo: Special Arrangement  

When Bharatanatya dancer Anuradha Venkataraman noticed that there exists a gap between art and the society in which we live, she decided to do something about it. “I was always keenly interested in art. I know what it does to you when you’re fully involved in it. Having experienced it myself, I felt it could be significant in this age and time. Art gives you an opportunity for self-introspection,” says Anuradha. Ahum – Art Heart U and Mind – is a trust she set up with the aim of bridging this distance. The name signifies the concept of art connecting with oneself. “Through Ahum, I want to explore different genres and forms of art, and link them with society. I’d also like to find out more spaces for this interaction.”

Curating five plays based on as many women, Anuradha has put together the One Theatre Festival, which will also marks the launch of Ahum.

“The plays delve into the lives of five women from different time periods and cultures. All the scripts are connected, as they provide reflections of women across varied cultures and backgrounds, ranging from the Mahabharata to World War I.” All the plays have been designed and directed by V. Balakrishnan from Chennai-based group Theatre Nisha.

On the thought behind the festival, Anuradha says, “I have been observing what goes on in our society. I feel there is a constant need to box women into stereotypical norms. These plays have been chosen more to facilitate a reflection on these issues than to make a feminist political point.”

The Peacock Prince, performed by Anuradha herself, creates a dance-dialogue with its blend of Bharatanatyam and speech. It portrays the journey of Amba from the Mahabharata. While Apradhini is a narration of four stories from the book Apradhini: Women Without Men, Mata Hari is the tale of an exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy during the First World War. Amrapali presents the story of the eponymous character from the Jataka Tales. Singarevva and the Palace revolves around a woman whose life is repeatedly exploited by the men in her life.

“Each tale brings out the desires and triumphs of woman characters from specific periods,” says Anuradha. Given the constant gender-related issues that we see around us, she believes that these stories have relevance in the present scenario.

Using Ahum as a platform, she hopes to conduct programmes and workshops which will also involve participation of the community. “I’d like to have people from different backgrounds working and taking part in our ventures,” she adds.

The festval takes place from July 31 to August 2 at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore. Tickets are available on bookmyshow.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 9:42:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-one-theatre-festival-reflections-of-women/article7474386.ece

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