7 Against 11 and The Peacock Prince pick up pages from history

7 Against 11 and The Peacock Prince — two different stand-up storytelling performances — will take you back to one of the greatest epics
Anuradha Venkataraman
Anuradha Venkataraman

Who does not like a good story! And when the story is from one of the greatest epics, Mahabharata, retold again and again, one that we have grown up listening to and even watching popular shows made on it, but feels as intriguing and entertaining every single time, it’s a bonus! Ain’t it?

Well, you have all the reasons to not miss two storytelling events this weekend — 7 Against 11 and The Peacock Prince — both episodes from the Mahabharata. “During the lockdown, we conducted several storytelling sessions online, from the Mahabharata, for children and adults, but this is the first in-person storytelling we are staging in Chennai,” says Meera Sitaraman of Theatre Nisha that is producing the two shows.

7 Against 11 is the story of the seven armies of Yudhishtra fighting the 11 armies of Duryodhana in the carnage of Kurukshetra, performed by theatre artiste V Balakrishnan, who tells us, “I have been performing stand-up storytelling from the Mahabharata for some time now. The idea of narrating the story of the pre-war scenario offered itself in the circumstances we find ourselves today in, globally.”

He adds, “I felt that to engage with what constitutes righteousness and what is seen as unfair would be an interesting debate to be coaxed through the medium of storytelling.”

V Balakrishnan
V Balakrishnan

The Peacock Prince is written by V Balakrishnan, published by Zero Degree Publishing, and designed and performed by Anuradha Venkataraman. This story of Amba is one of hurt, humiliation, rage and resentment. Undone by Bhishma, she burns herself in a funeral pyre, and is reborn in the house of Drupada as a girl, but is brought up as a boy, Shikhandi. As fate would have it, Shikhandi is taken to the field of Kurukshetra where he sets out to achieve what he promised himself in a previous birth, as Amba. With live music (vocal and percussion by Srividhya and Rajesh), this performance combines movement, dialogue and more.

“The play was written to be performed by Balakrishnan as a one-person play, but I am performing it. Apart from playing the two major characters of Amba and Shikhandi, I also play the other characters like Drupada, Bhishma and Sthunakarna. My training in bharatanatyam greatly helps me in switching characters as I am used to that style of abhinaya called as ekaaharya, where a single actor plays multiple roles.”

Sharing with us why an episode from the Mahabharata was picked to be narrated as a story on stage, Anuradha says, “I chose to do this character because for me, it is very intriguing to see how the idea of gender exists in its fluidity even in our mythologies. However, a majority of our narratives choose to colour them with clear boundaries.”

7 Against 11: Pay what you can at the venue. March 10, 7 pm to 8 pm. 
The Peacock Prince: Rs 200. March 11, 3 pm and 7 pm. Alliance Française of Madras.


Related Stories

No stories found.