They have been burning the midnight oil, rehearsing until 2.30am every day, except for Good Friday, for the past three months. Some five women, eight children, and 19 others are the 'actors' who have been rehearsing for an Indian dance-drama program, scheduled to take place today at Al-Jeel Al-Jadeed School Auditorium, Hawally. And guess who is exhilaratingly exhausted of all? A 10th grade student who plays the lead in the two-and-a half hour epic drama. She has not been able to afford to take time off from school or miss learning dialogues that are replete with colloquialism, traditional rituals and a story structure that mixes history with folklore.
A world of tradition that is unfamiliar to many expat Indian children forms the crux of the play," said Thomas PS, aka Babuji Batheri, the director. The play, titled ' A Northern Heroic Saga' is presented as a retelling of folklores that narrate the heroic story of a village feud, personal conflicts and valor. "I wanted a blend of traditional methods as well as post-modern drifts," said Babuji, whose son also plays a minor character's role.
With 22 scenes, 17 background designs, five songs and dances, 32 actors, nine set workers, the mega entertainment show is proof of what motivation can help achieve, despite work pressure. Perspiration than inspiration, and nurture, than nature have played key roles in the enactment of this production.
Award winning Indian stage designer Sujathan, who came to Kuwait over a month ago solely for the purpose, believes that such large-scale theater productions are rarely staged. Back in the state of Kerala, where he hails from, drama productions are fading into oblivion. More drama artistes, along with viewers have now migrated to TV serials.
Sujathan who had created the cut out of a bulldozer in 2006 for a play that examined India's real estate mafia, and surprised theater lovers, said "What can be depicted in two or three scenes, is now stretched over across 16 to 18 scenes". Sujathan celebrated his 60th birthday at the rehearsal camp here. He said he was delighted to work with a group of enthusiasts because 'back home drama is a dying art.'
Manoj Mavelikkara, a resident of Jleeb Al-Shuyokh, took an emergency leave from his company to compose the play's music score. He went to India to record five songs and lots of run-through background score. "Had it been a present day drama, I could have recorded the music in Kuwait," he said. "This epic ballad requires a few traditional musical instruments.
The drama, organized by popular Indian organization Thanima (The Human and Nostalgic Interaction of Malayalees Abroad) also incorporates martial arts, another fading glory from the bygone era. "It's so much more than a learning experience," remarked Mohammed Iqbal Koottamangalam, an actor. "Leading a bachelor's life here, the drama rehearsal camp was like a large family to me.
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