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“This production emerged from Adishakti’s research project on Rhythm as a Text in Koodiyattam and Contemporary Theatre. The research was supported by the India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore, India.
The performance, is an interpretation of the birth stories related to the myths of Ganapati, the elephant headed god from the Puranic cycle and Martanda, from the Vedic cycle. It is structured in a recurring cycle of creation, celebration, destruction and return, which parallel’s the motif of these birth stories. The return is suggested by a re-telling of the myth repeatedly and from different points of view. The aim is to allow its main concern, that of creations and creativity, to be interpreted at a variety of different levels.
The performance communicates its concerns through different patterns and textures of rhythms. The verbal text is minimal. The rhythms used in this piece have been evolved from the rhythms of Koodiyattam music and folk rhythms from various parts of South Asia.“
__ Veenapani Chawla
Upcoming Shows: 18th and 19th March 2017 at OddBird Theatre in Delhi and 22nd March 2017 at the Navras JKK Festival in Jaipur
As rituals commemorate myths the performance opens with the ritual creation of an image of Ganapati for the annual festival, by a group of artisans. During this process the artisans look for inspiration; and on receiving it, enthusiastically complete the image. They then participate in the festival’s celebrations and its aftermath; when the icon is sent away to be immersed in the sea. It will be recreated the next year.
An actor narrates the story of the birth of Ganapati in dance.
Both the Ganapati and Oedipus stories are metaphors of cultural behavior in the two different civilizational worlds that they come from. In the Oedipus myth it is the father who is destroyed by his son. And so it is with the tradition, which is displaced by the new, the young, the revolutionary and the other. In South Asia the tradition seems to accommodate the new, the revolutionary and the other. For Siva’s eventual participation in Parvati’s solo act of creativity and his empowerment of Ganapati thereafter can be viewed as such.
In this episode a group of traditional musicians are startled when one amongst them breaks away from the accepted form and opens himself up to new outpourings of his spirit. They are angry to begin with but soon accommodate these new outpourings within their tradition.
An actor relates the story of Martanda from the Vedic Cycle. Martanda is the hidden potential waiting to be born.
In one of the many stories about Ganapati’s birth, Siva and Parvati put on elephant forms so as to please themselves as elephants do. And out of this union Ganapati is born.
In a Buddhist version of the Ganapati birth story, a baby elephant bumps into Siva while he is looking for the head he has chopped off. When the elephant learns that the boy will live only if he gets a head within a specific time, the he offers his head to Siva so as to bring Ganapati back to life. Although the elephant asks for no recompense—there is one: Immortality.
Ganapati—with his elephant head and pot bellied human body epitomizes hybridity. He offers a seed sound for further creative evolution. A group of musicians pick up this seed sound and in a shared act of creativity develop it into a complete pattern of sound. Martanda emerges in celebration of this creative energy.
Then an alien element enters to threaten the newly established pattern of sound. At first the musicians are indifferent to it; then gradually they interact with it to create further new sounds and new music along with the old. When the music settles in, the musicians move on.
They will return again next year.
Cast and Credits
Performers: Vinay Kumar, Arvind Rane, Pascal Sieger, Nimmy Raphel, Apoorva Arthur & Anoop Davis
Light Designer: Vinay Kumar
Light Operation: Ashiqa Salvan
Concept, Script, Music Arrangement, Choreography & Direction: Veenapani Chawla