Sopanam Productions  |  Theatre Festivals  |  Kurunnukootam  |  Sopana Sangeetham  |  Artistes Gallery  |  News Letter    


SYNOPSIS OF MAJOR PRODUCTIONS
(click the photo for enlargement & music)
BackBack | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |   | 

MALAVIKAGNIMITAM

King Agnimitra is at war with the neighbouring state Vidharbha. He has two wikfes, Dharini and Iravati. The beautiful Malavika a fugitive in war lives in cognitive as Dharini's maid in Agnimitra's Court.

Agnimiytra happens to see Malavika in a dance competition which was arranged by his friend Goutama (Vidooshaka).

Love grows between Agnimitra and Malavika. They find a rendezvous under an Asoka Tree. Informed by the King's commandoes, Dharini and Iravati catch the lovers together, Malavika is imprisoned.

Vidooshaka devices a scheme to free Malavika and she is freed.

Parivrajika who knows the secret about Malavika's latent power advises her to kick the dried Asoka tree. The tree immediately blossoms. This coincides with the victory of Agnimitra in the war with the Greeks. The play concludes with the King marrying Malavika.

Original in Sanskrit :   Mahakavi Kalidasa
Adaptation, Music, Design & Direction    : Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Sanskrit
Duration : 90 min

UTTARA RAMA CHARITAM

About the Play : It was in the village Kavalam, which is Shri. Panikkar's creative abode that the Hindi version of Bhavabhuti's play Uttara Rama Charitam was first conceived by us. We sat down beside the beautiful Pampa river and started talking and creating… creating and talking…The Hindi text emerged as if it was already there in the Sanskrit text; lying hidden, waiting to come out in the light. Panikkar imagines a play in rhythm, which inter-relates the realm of the form and the content. In the process, he often would open before me some beautiful imagery and ask me to complete it in vachika. He would take flight from what I had written and then make my own text miraculous even to me.

The original play primarily works along the lines of three rasas: karuna, shringar and veera. Ofcourse it is known for its karuna but the other two rasas are also there, lying latent to sprout into meaningful dimensions in the production. We worked to bring out the beautiful triangle of these rasas and the poetic images assume creative sub-textual dimensions. It helped in bringing into open the conflict of being Rama. He is Rama that is why he will have to suffer, he is Rama that is why he will love, he is Rama that is why he will have to protect his people. But being all these he is endlessly out of equilibrium. That is why his stories are told. And being Sita is also to live in this triangle. She is Sita that is why she will love, she is Sita that is why she will have to suffer separation, she is Sita that is why she will have to face the loneliness in forest with courage.

We tried to go on playing with this subtle triangle throughout the play. It is through this play that all movements of the actors on the stage take on a grace that only someone like Panikkar is capable of bringing out in the performance.

We took the play as a musician takes a raag in Indian musical tradition. We got located in its essence and somewhere around it and redid the entire play, rewrote the entire play. It essentially remains what Bhavabhuti wrote and yet it has become our own creation. Such is the gift of the tradition. We are blessed.

Dedication : It was my dream to work with K N Panikkar. When our work began, there were many beautiful people around to inspire us; but we lost at least one such person on the way to this production: Panikkar's son Harikrishnan. I dedicate my contribution to this production to his fond memory.

Udayan Vajpeyi

Original in Sanskrit :   Mahakavi Bhavabhuti
Translation and Adaptation : Dr. Udayan Vajpeyi
Direction : Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Hindi
Duration : 90 min

NIZHALAYANAM

The play deals with the life of Urmila wife of Lakshmana, who is the real 'Janaki', or the daughter of King Janaka. In the play, Urmila contemplates that Rama and Lakshmana are one and the same. She was trying to learn one through the other. She took pride in her attempts to decipher the Ultimate Truth about Rama.The theme of the play is based on a challenge to Urmila thrown by Rama. The temporary tale-end of the play suggests that Rama makes her feel that she has succeeded in her spiritual quest. Searching out one's self, realizing one's own essence – is possible only by knowing your Lakshmana Rekha, that makes the voyage of wisdom meaningful.

In the relationship between Rama and Lakshmana, myth has it that Lakshmana is Ananda, the Endless; while Rama's incarnation is predestined to establish dharma, his span of life is limited to a precise gamut of existence. Lakshmana, being Ananda provides Rama a platform for his existence as well as his shelter.

Nizhalayanam - The real and the illusory… Are they like the object and the shadow? Which one is the original? Is one born out of the other or have they come together? – These are the questions raised in the play.

Playwright & Direction :   Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Malayalam
Duration : 90 min

CHANDALIKA

Tagore's Chandalika is a work which demands sub- textual treatment in the contemporary Indian social context. It reveals certain social evils which endanger dharma and justice and also equality of man. A familiar dramatic situation from our surroundings is presented here through the experience of a so called chandalika, born in a socially challenging group. A conflict arising from class distinction is worked out.

Chandalika and her mother are brought near a well where, Ananda, the disciple of Buddha comes in search of water. His demand for water is promptly denied by the community, as they are untouchables and they believe they will be cursed if water is served to the upper caste.

Water is nature's gift to be freely made available to those who are thirsty. The compelling spiritual message of Prakrithi, the Chandalika in the play surpasses all conservative convictions of caste distinctions and the Bhikshu quenches his thirst with the water poured into his hand cup by the Chandalika maid.

This thirst of the Bhikshu is spiritual and it is juxtaposed with the sensuality of man as represented by the Prince. The Prince approaches Chandalika with all pretensions of a patronizing lover. But the girl is quick enough to prevent the approach of the libertine. Her mother however is a blind follower of social custom which treats Chandalas as slaves to the high caste. It is the duty of the slave to obey the bids of the Lord.

But she too under the compelling influence or spell of her daughter, already enlightened by the message of Bhikshu, falls under the feet of Buddha's messenger. Snubbed in his vain attempt in wooing Prakrithi, the Prince retreats. The villagers accept Ananda as their redeemer.

Playwright :   Mahakavi Rabindranath Tagore
Translation :   P.Naryana Kurup
Direction :   Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Malayalam
Duration : 90 min

ANTARYAMI

We the human beings are all fireflies. We bring to earth the smile of God, celestial and amaranthine, from the stars in the sky. We are in pursuit of ourselves. We search with the help of the little light in us and miserably fail to realize what we ate, where we are. We are disturbed within, always in agonizing expectation of something inexplicable and alien to us. There is a semblance of the supreme arrival at your doors. You get ready to receive Him only to find that it was merely a moment of hallucination. You are suddenly engulfed by a sense of intense despair.

The monsoon arrives with all its paraphernalia. In the torrential downpour of sorrow, the feeble hope left in you is extinguished. Now and then, lightning flashes, kindling a little hope which is but ephemeral. The long-awaited is finally at your doors. He is received in great ecstasy. You fancy a game of hide and seek with him. This illusion grows into a musk-deer which is in an unending quest for the enigmatic fragrance-from within or without? We are all like musk deers, eluded by our own identity.

You go abegging from door to door and here comes in the golden chariot your Master in great pomp and splendour. This king of all kings is right before you – a great opportunity to seek alms… alms of great significance. He comes down with a smile and to your great surprise, holds out his begging hands. Then you realize how truly rich you are. You are confused then, but give him a little grain of corn from your hand. In the evening you empty your bag to find a little gram of gold and weep that you did not give him all the corn. You are in a quagmire of insatiable greed. How to overcome this disastrous predicament? You feel guilty of your own feelings and become speechless with shame. He is just behind you, in search of you. You try to escape him. But his footsteps follow you, always concerned of you.

At the end, the great moment of realization dawns on you that your pursuit for the eternal ends in yourself…. That your ultimate identity is inseparable with your mother…. Your motherland…. Your nature… the world view of the cosmic man thus begins in you and ends in you.

Playwright :   Mahakavi Rabindranath Tagore
Translation :   Dr. Udayan Vajpeyi (Hindi)
Dr. Usha Kumari (Sanskrit)
Mahakavi G. Sankara Kurup (Malayalam)
Direction :   Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Multilingual
Duration : 45 min

THEYYA THEYYAM

'Theyyam' can be roughly translated as the re-incarnation of a dead soul. Sometimes dead war heroes are raised to the status of theyyam. 'Theyya theyyam' is thus a double re-incarnation of a dead man's soul and a dead hero. Theyyam, a ritualistic art performed in North Malabar on festive occasions, usually represents the dead hero, who is raised to the sublime level of God in the minds of village folk.

The play 'Theyya Theyyam' being performed here is the story of a villager 'Ramunni' who regularly used to cast himself as theyyam in the village festival, as it was his family right. He appeaed as Parankichamundi every year without fail, for which the folk admired him profusely.

The performance here begins with a flashback which presents the story behind Paranki Chamundi. The villagers have a version of Ramayana for themselves – in which Rama is Daivathar, Sita, is Poonkanni, Lakshmana is Ankakkaran, Hanuman is Beppuran and Ravana is the pirate Paranki. The people of the village are terribly afraid of Paranki who arrives on a sailship. In their version of Ramayana Paranki is attracted by the beauty of Poonkanni, wife of Daivathar and abducts her. Realising that his strength is in the magic belt tied around his hip, Beppuran snatches the belt and kills Paranki when he is asleep. Thus put to death, Paranki is raised as the Theyyam 'Paranki Chamundi' by the people.

Ramunni, who used to perform the theyyam in the village, also has a past similar to the story of Ramayana. He is the subject of a landlord named Mekkamthala. When Mekkamthala is about to molest Kannipoo, the daughter of a respectable man named Salguni, Ramunni foils the attempt and kills Mekkamthala. That night, Ramunni flees the village with Kannipoo. This sets the police after Ramunni, who is missing, but his mother is confident that he would return to the village on the day of theyyam, wherever he is. As anticipated, Ramunni returns on the day and performs the Theyyam, as his vow is. Salguni and his people recognize him and beat him to death when he performs the theyyam. This makes Ramunni the theyyam of a theyyam – "THEYYA THEYYAM".

Playwright & Direction :   Kavalam Narayana Panikkar
Language : Malayalam
Duration : 90 min

BackBack | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |   |