It was quite a spectacle. The children in the audience craned their necks to see a giant puppet walking towards them. A thousand smartphones went up in the air to freeze the image for posterity. The audience at Lady Willingdon College, opposite Marina Beach, looked spell-bound at the sky as Aruna and the Raging Sun, by the UK-based Graeae Theatre Company and La Fura dels Baus, unfolded in front of them.
Not everyday, do you get to see a sight like this. The children screamed in absolute glee and terror as the 20-metre-tall puppet approached them with a certain casualness, looking eerie and surreal. Its timing was perfect. The plot of the play, scripted by Venkataraman Balakrishnan, artistic director of Theatre Nisha, had reached a crucial juncture where humanity, tormented by the Sun, needed a saviour. Two cranes were employed to lift the make-shift stage and the actors up in the air. The production, accompanied by Indian and Western beats, reached a crescendo with fireworks in the sky, splashing it with hues of reds, pinks and greens.
It was a first of its kind for Chennai, where the differently-abled led the entire show. Up in the air, the actors pulled off acrobatic stunts and graceful moves. Through such a statement, the production proved that art and humanity are not monolithic. For once, let’s put to rest the question of good and bad art, and instead, welcome this production as a celebration of humanity.