Ramanaya draws from the Ramayana to create a surreal production
Ramanaya is not a typo, the Berlin-based director of the play, Felix Mathias Ott, emphasises in our email interaction. “We are exploring the Ramayana, but in our own way. So, I’d like to stress on the fact that this is not the epic text and it is also not a reproduction or an adaptation,” he explains. This production, on stage this weekend, is an effort to piece together the ‘in-between’ spaces of myth and reality. Felix feels that the Ramayana, with its seemingly simple storyline, hides an extremely complex world within its folds. “We use the Ramayana as a playground and enter a world that is huge and sacred and we find new ways of reading the story. That’s what makes a story alive and contemporary,” he says.
The play has two performers on stage supported by the larger graph of the epic and the performance tries to find the space between these two areas. The actors find an entry point to the story through a map. The two storytellers enter the map as it expands and becomes more complex as they travel deeper into the epic. “We are not looking at finding answers, we are proposing questions. Our effort is to find and offer new openings and new grounds for ourselves,” Felix expounds. On a larger scale, the play explores the themes of love, longing, innocence, playfulness, art and discovery.
Myth and magic
Felix’s fascination with the epic began in 2015 when he travelled to India and created a short piece based on the story of Shakuntala. Last December, the two performers, Vinod Ravindran and Puja Sarup, came to Berlin and that’s how the play was born. “My research has also involved hearing the fascinating stories from people in order to understand the world of Indian mythology which is very alive and present in your daily life. I see the story all around me, in temples, in rituals, and in everyday life,” he adds.
The play features a sound score by Nikhil Nagaraj and a video by artist Benjamin Brix. “Our entire rehearsal has been in residencies, surrounded by nature with the entire team living and working together...that has also contributed to the way we have designed our production,”
he signs off.
Rs. 200. February 9 and 10, 3.30 and 7.30 pm. At Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar