When I was asked to write about a theatre play for kids, I was hesitant – for children’s plays didn’t excite me as much as it did 15 years ago. 20 years in this world and like the most of us out there, I too have lost the kid in me.
On the day of the event, I was steered into a heritage house in the outskirts of Pollachi, looking onto coconut groves, with the wind whistling through the leaves. Fifty children sat down before the portico peering at the closed door, behind which stood the three actors of the play to be staged – Kadal Bootham. A Tamil drama conceptualized by theatre artiste Dr. Velu Saravanan, it is a hilarious narration of a boy who once brings home a pot he found it the sea – only to find out the vessel contains a monster!
In a minute before these tiny tots and their parents could settle down, sprang out a clown – his expressions conveying more than words, and his actions enchanting us with magic.
I lost myself, immersed in his character. It was amazing how Dr. Velu made every child become part of his play. In all the performances I have watched earlier, a story is usually being depicted to the audience.
Kadal Bootham let us be a part of the play and with each scene that was enacted, we just drowned into the surreal world that the clown named Gori portrayed.
He introduced himself to the world through dance, music and cheers. He made each child think that they were the protagonists and even when a few kids in the group didn’t sing along with him, he made sure they joined in! The play continued on a frisky note, until the Sea Monster (Kadal Bootham played by Bharatidhasan) sprung out of a vessel. Its entry onto the stage made the kids fall back in fear, but Dr. Velu managed to turn the scary story about the monster into a funny one!
My expectations of the play were of fun for twenty minutes but Kadal Bootham tried to tell us a deeper meaning. According to the kids, they came into to watch a skit enacted by three men, but by the end of it they learn to overcome fear, stand against evil, to do their own work and to have a sense of confidence. In the end, I saw myself sitting down being the children, my throat sore with all the singing along. Kadal Bootham turned me into a child without even me realizing it!
In the aftermath of the play, with all their makeup washed away, the actors spoke to me as if the play had ever ended – their excitement and fervor translated from the stage even into their daily lives. To have such theatre performances in Pollachi opens up new opportunities in the art of drama and to have someone as talented as Dr. Velu Saravanan is an added icing to the cake.
About the event: Organized by Ms. Mookambika of Rathnam Memorial Trust, the event is a precursor to one of the many such programmes planned by the trustees, to cast a sea change in the theater scenario in Pollachi. With a keen foresight to revive dying native art forms and to exhibit various forms of performing arts in the region to a wider audience, Ms. Mookambika has planned an exciting list of events to look forward to in the near future, starting with a puppetry show and a butterfly walk.