When performance spaces closed during the lockdown, digital mediums became the stage for several artists across the globe. Theatre also went online, with productions being streamed live or uploaded after recording. Kalanilayam, a theatre group that made a mark with its lavish and mass productions, has also made the change. On Saturday, August 1 at 5:30 pm, Klanilayam created a live stream of its production Hidimbi. Available on the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC) Facebook page

Synopsis

A monologue play, the audience moves through the mindscape of Hidimbi, a minor character from the Mahabharata. A demoness, she gets married to Bhima, one of the Pandavas. But, eventually, she not only loses her love but also her brother, Hidumba, and her son, Ghatotkacha

The play begins with Hidimbi searching for Ghatotkacha’s dead body on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. She then goes down memory lane, remembering her romance with Bhima, their marriage, her brother’s death, and how Bhima left her on her own in the forest when she was pregnant…

The Performance & The Past

Titled Hidimbi (An Arrow From The Past), the performance is an English version of the original work in Malayalam. The two-hour production has been trimmed to 45 minutes,” says Anandapadmanabhan, son of Krishnan Nair, founder of Kalanilayam, and his daughter Gayathri Govind (pictured below) enacts Hidimbi in the original production (2015 to 2018) and in the new English production.

Photo Credit: TheHindu.com

Hidimbi, originally scripted and directed by Gireesh C Palam, premièred in 2014.

“It was a massive production with multimedia projection and 3D effects. The online version won’t have any of that. Except for a background score, there wouldn’t be any props or set. I don’t have the costume with me and I will be in a regular get-up,” says Gayathri, a trained classical dancer and assistant professor in Computer Science at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.“I was approached by the cultural center to stage a Mohiniyattam performance (traditional dance theatre). It was my suggestion to do the play. Since non-Malayalis will also be watching it, I translated it into English,” adds the artist.

Calling it “an experiment”, actress Gayathri Govind says that adapting the art to online platforms, for the time being, is a viable option for theatre artists.

“While cinema has an audience on OTT platforms, we can’t expect that to happen for theatre. It is an attempt to prove that nothing is impossible. I’m nervous because I’m not sure whether I would be able to do justice to the nuances of the character when I do it in English,”.

Gayathri will be connecting from a hall at Hosur where she currently stays for the performance Livestream

“This an attempt to keep theatre artistes motivated as most of them are disheartened having stayed away from the stage for four months now,” says Anandapadmanabhan.

For more information on the original production, click here

This article first appeared in TheHindu.com on July 31st, 2020, and has been reposted with permission. For the original article, click here.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.