The Madras Players’ Trinity is a tribute to 'the three jewels of Carnatic music' and brings the two worlds of music and theatre together
When a group of Carnatic musicians shows up on stage, it may not necessarily be for a concert. City-based theatre company, The Madras Players’ latest production titled Trinity will see its actors, played by professional singers, acting as well as singing Carnatic music live on stage. “I think it is for the first time that live Carnatic music is being incorporated into an English theatre production in India,” says PC Ramakrishna, veteran thespian and voice artist, who is also the director of the play.
The 90-minute-long play is based on three short stories written by Tamil writer Seetha Ravi, each depicting an event or a moment in the lives of legendary Carnatic musicians Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, who are called the Trinity in the world of Carnatic music. “What is special about the trio is that they were born in Tiruvarur town in Tamil Nadu in the mid-18th century and all the three of them lived their lives in and around Thanjavur, giving magnificent compositions to the world. For the play, I wanted to get the actors to sing on stage as well. When I approached these musicians to act, they were excited to play as these legendary musicians who are revered today,” he adds.
The play, featuring over 10 singers and nine actors, will see celebrated Carnatic vocalists such as Vijay Siva Gayathri Venkataraghavan and Dr S Sunder, among others, coming together to perform. The director, who is also a trained Carnatic percussionist, has strung the three different stories together using a common thread. “In the play, I have created a couple of characters, for instance, a resident of Thiruvayur, who knows all the three musicians. The character walks in and out of these stories as a narrator, introducing other performers to the audience, thereby establishing a link between them,” shares the director, who has been associated with The Madras Players as an actor since 1969.
When asked about the challenges he faced while directing singers who don’t have any prior experience in acting, he says, “It was the first time in acting for most of them. Any task is challenging, but I also feel that when artistes come without any baggage, it gets easier to work with them. They are willing to submit to a parallel art form which they are unfamiliar with. And the fact that they were also singing on stage gave them the confidence to act.”
The play will see its male actors in traditional veshtis, women in saris and younger girls in pavada and davani. “The set design is done in such a way that it keeps interchanging between three different households. As and when the link is being established between the stories, imperceptibly, the backdrop will change,” shares Ramakrishna, adding that he hopes to take the play to all the major cities in India.
At Museum Theater.
November 16-18. 7 pm onwards.
Tickets from `300 onwards.
— Fathima Ashraf