The plus-size ensemble The Big Fat Company, takes on Karnad’s Hayavadana
The Big Fat Company was started in July last year by the Untitled Arts Foundation to promote inclusivity and body positivity. The ensemble is made up of 15 plus-size actors, who want to break stereotypes and cliches associated with plus-size characters in theatre and movies. They stage their first production, Head 2 Head, this week.
The play uses Girish Karnad’s popular Kannada play Hayavadana as a starting point to discuss cultural narratives around bodies. They stress that it is not just a regular play featuring plus-size actors, which in itself is unheard of, but it also addresses the issue of the lack of such productions. Each member of the cast has a story to tell about body issues and stereotypes, especially when it comes to actors.
The play is a devised perfor-mance and the actors recount their own journeys. It takes off from Hayavadana, but it’s not an adaptation of it. Actor Kriti Bettadh describes it best when she says, Hayavadana is only the base, like a pizza, and the rest of the play is like the topping.”
Hayavadana seemed like a perfect fit, because in the play, there are two men with opposing identities, Devadatta and Kapila. One is a man of intellect and the other is a man of physical prowess. During the course of the play, they end up with the other’s head on their shoulders. This is how the larger themes of identity and the self are addressed. This is also after what Head 2 Head is named. “We focus on body
politics and address socio-cultural issues through the larger plot,” says Anuradha HR, the artistic director of Untitled Arts Foundation.
Another reason for choosing the play was because Bengaluru audiences and the actors are familiar with it. The play stars Sushma SV, Sneha Kappanna, Sharun Robin along with Kriti and Anuradha, and is in a mix of English and Kannada. The play is supported by huge masks which assist in exploration of the themes the plot presents. The masks are designed by Sridhar Murthy. Ultimately, it is an attempt to prove that not all plays need to have a slender lead actress and a male lead.
Rs.100 upwards. March 16 - 18, 7.30 pm. At Kengal Hanumanthaih Kala Soudha, Hanumantha Nagar