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Karuppu: Inner demons, outer faith

Grim tales Koumarane tells the story of assault via mythology   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Violence, innermost desires and vile energy... Karuppu will be an exploration of all this through the lens of Greek and Indian mythological characters. Do not expect a straight narrative with the conventional plot-action-climax arc. Director Koumarane Valavane, of the Puducherry-based theatre group Indianostrum, wants to delve into the inner depths of your subconscious and urge you to be involved in his communion through theatre. Excerpts from a telephonic interview:

Karuppu: Inner demons, outer faith

Tell us about the theatre of the subconscious, that you have engaged with not just in this production, but also in your widely toured Kunti Karna.

We have tried to explore some dark aspects. The four actors will be telling tales of violence and sexual assault. But, these will be communicated through rituals and myths. While sharing about darkness, a bond is developed among the audience. That’s what we are trying to achieve. The incidents we feel deeply about might be dark and disturbing. But, when people come together to start a discussion to address them, it becomes something beautiful.

Iphigenia abandoned by her father. Ophelia drowned in the river, Clytemelnestra who murdered her husband and Medea who killed her own children... What is the motive behind choosing these violent characters?

These extreme acts of violence; we still read of them in newspapers. By the end of the play, the audience will feel a certain compassion for the character. There will be a happy ending: not like mainstream cinema promises you, but as a state of ananda, where the audience will be touched and reflective about much violence in society.

Are you re-conceptualising the idea of black, attaching it to deities like Karuppayya?

In South India, there is a strong belief system of turning a stone under a tree into a god. The karuppu deity is one such. There is a belief that when you roam about in the night, the karuppu deivam comes with you. It is pre-Vedic belief system; this is not in any way associated with institutionalised Hinduism. It is also a way to survive diseases, catastrophes and any other dark forces surrounding us in life.

Do you think mythology has a potential to lend itself to the medium of theatre?

I strongly believe that religion appropriates mythology. Mythology is society’s attempt to link itself to the cosmos. It belongs to humanity. The form of theatre employed is ritualistic, to evoke the subconscious of the audience. The music, movements and lighting have been designed to make the narrative not intellectual, but emotional.

How do you see the audience’s involvement in this play? Will they be co-creators of meaning too?

The audience’s identification with the play will last for only a while. Beyond that, they will come out of the idea of identification, but not out of the play. They will be detached observers. I leave certain gaps for the audience to read in between the lines. If you say everything, the play loses its meaning. The play has been designed like a dance drama in a minimalist way. There will be lots of empty spaces. River, forests and flowers will be evoked in a way you have not seen in conventional theatre.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 11:06:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/theatre-fest/karuppu-inner-demons-outer-faith/article24686878.ece

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