Kerala

New visual narrative of Tempest is in a circus tent

Theatre performers and circus artistes rehearsing Talatom, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Tempest at South Kanayi, near Payyannur, in Kannur.  

They represent a cross-section of India as they have all been camping in a secluded locality here for the past one month to create a new idiom of performance arts, blending theatre and circus in a visual language constructed over Shakespeare’s play Tempest.

The ensemble of theatre performers and circus artistes from different parts of the country is involved in an experimental theatre project involving circus forms and theatrical elements for the production of Talatom, a theatrical adaptation of Tempest, which seeks to construct a new visual narrative as it is going to be performed in a circus tent to be set up for the staging.

The bunch of theatre and circus artistes is in the final lap of their practice and rehearsal in a location set up at a resort at South Kanayi, near here. Talatom will be staged at Panaji from December 20 to 23 as part of the Serendipity Arts Festival, a curated inter-disciplinary arts festival beginning there on December 16. The theatre project is funded by Serendipity Arts Trust.

Talatom is inspired by Shakespeare’s Tempest and our production represents at one level the basic conflict between Prospero and Caliban and that between the classical and the folk or subaltern at another level,” said Abhilash Pillai, director of the innovative theatre project.

The performance uses a range of visual narrative aspects of circus, including clowning, physical feats and sports, and game sans competition, added Dr. Pillai, who is an assistant professor at the National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi.

The theatrical production is also envisaged as a workshop as the circus artistes will be performing in the tent in the evening and in daytime they will be conducting workshops for schoolchildren.

“It has been a challenging project because of its enormity in terms of artistes and the kind of scenography involved in it,” said Deepak Sivaraman, who is doing the scenography for the play. The space, the ring of a circus tent, where the play is performed is enormous for Indian theatre artistes who are familiar with minimal theatres, he said. Agrees Lapdiang A. Syiem, a native of Shillong and student of the NSD who is playing Ariel in the drama.

Circus artistes Tanya from Nepal (playing Miranda) and Kiran from Gujarat (playing Ceres) said they enjoyed their involvement in this collaborative initiative. They are hopeful that such innovative theatre projects would help circus artistes get more recognition.

Elaborate costumes

The overlapping of circus and theatre domains envisaged in the production of the play is expected to be a work that can be understood by spectators of all age-groups. The production also involves elaborate costumes and sculpture. “It is an attempt to create a new grammar of theatre,” said Thrissur-based theatre artists C.R. Rajan, who is playing a role in the drama.

For Ramesh Varma, theatre artiste and teacher at the Department of Theatre at the Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University at Kalady, who plays the role of Prospero, the project is an experience for more exploration.


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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:32:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/New-visual-narrative-of-Tempest-is-in-a-circus-tent/article16768210.ece

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