Witness ten hours of intense drama at Chennai’s first Theatre Binge
Move over the Short+Sweet style of ten-minute-play marathons. In a first for Chennai, four top theatre groups in the city are coming together on a common stage to present a full-length play each back-to-back, in a showcase called Theatre Binge. Conceptualised by B Charles, who founded the city-based theatre initiative Chennai Art Theatre, it features Perch, Theatre Nisha, JustUs Repertory and Indianostrum, names that you don’t often see together in one single event. “I was particularly inspired by the format of the Edinburg Festival, where multiple plays would be staged together for hours,” Charles says, adding that he approached other groups as well, such as The Madras Players, but they couldn’t come on board because they had their own productions coming up. “I certainly hope to see them in the next edition. For now, it’s fingers crossed till Sunday,” he adds, revealing that the majority of the combined tickets (Season Pass) have been sold out.
At Alliance Française. 11 am onwards.
Tickets at Rs. 150 per play and at Rs. 400 (Season Pass) on in.bookmyshow.com
Peacock Prince, V Balakrishnan
After its debut at Spaces in 2014, Theatre Nisha’s Peacock Prince has never been staged in Chennai again mainly because its lead actor, Anuradha Venkataraman (who essays the role of the Mahabharatha character Amba), is based in Bengaluru. Until now, as director and Anuradha’s brother, V Balakrishanan returns with this epic dance-dialogue drama to the city. Inspired by both Kamala Subramaniam’s Mahabharata and Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King, the play also has two musicians, sitarist Meenakshi Viswanathan and percussionist Vishwa Bharath.
Karuppu, Kumaran Valavan
After concluding a six-show tour in Paris, where they performed their 2014 play Karuppu, director Kumaran Valavan and Pondicherry’s premier theatre group Indianostrum is now bringing the one-hour play to the city for Theatre Binge. With inspirations in Greek and Hindu mythology, the play was first conceptualised in a workshop conducted at the Indianostrum Theatre. “It explores the complex relation between the bodies of a man and woman through a contemporary dance-drama performance of five mythological female characters who are reacting to oppression by men,” says Kumaran, adding that he’s happy to be part of crucial events like Theatre Binge, which he hopes will further strengthen their theatre following in Chennai.
Water Lilies, Gowri Ramnarayan
Water Lilies is one of Gowri Ramnarayan’s most popular plays, which was first staged in the year 2007. “Back then I had six actors playing the six roles in it,” says Gowri, adding “However, over time, due to repeated unavailability of all the actors, the script and roles were accordingly changed in 2012 to include just two actors, Vivek Hariharan and Akhila Ramnarayan, who played three roles each.” This time though, Vivek Hariharan has been replaced by Varun Aiyer, we learn. “Varun brings his own brand of acting to the stage. However, no matter how experienced he is, it is still difficult to portray three racially and ethnically different characters back to back,” she admits, adding that Varun is at his best when he is challenged. “Varun will bring his own identity to the role and I think that’s great,” says Gowri.
Kira Kozhumbu, Rajiv Krishnan
Last staged by Perch this September, Kira Kozhumbu marked the 95th birthday of acclaimed Tamil author of Ki Rajanarayanan (affectionately addressed as Ki Ra), whose folktale of the same name inspired the play’s director, Rajiv Krishnan. With three protagonists — a haughty eagle, a confused chicken and a lucky snake — the play is humorous and is suitable for all ages.