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Flights of fantasy

Inspired by Viraj Naik’s ongoing art show ‘Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom’, ‘Tales from Beyond’, a play by InStages Theatre Company of Sunaparanta-Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho will dwell on themes like superheroes, fairytales, and fables


Viraj Naik’s new solo show ‘Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom’ opened recently at Sunaparanta-Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho, and has been met with varied but interesting responses. And now, a young theatre company is all set to present a theatrical performance, inspired by the exhibition.

Titled ‘Tales from Beyond’, the play, presented by InStages Theatre Company of the art centre, will be directed by Arundhati Chattopadyaya with choreography by Keya D’Souza.

“As it so happened we had been working with the children on similar lines ie superhuman strength and superheroes, when the idea of the play was presented to us,” says Chattopadyaya. Although the children had not seen the exhibition until then, they were taken on a walk-through of the exhibition followed by a question and answer session with Naik himself.

“They really liked his works and he in turn was quite amused by their reactions and their ability to actually see what was drawn. The kids in particular liked the gargoyle styled creatures,” says Chattopadyaya, adding that in her opinion there is a variety of emotions that can be seen through the exhibition. “It’s a huge exhibition and you have to go and see it again and again and again. The most important thing that the kids and I liked was the non-use of colour, which made the work very strong and the characters actually come out of the frame. It’s very theatrical and a good narrative,” she says.

‘Tales from Beyond’ will consist of three different acts done over 30 minutes. The first act will feature five boys in the class talking about superheroes. The second act will have four girls talking about why they don’t like fairytales. “When we were discussing these themes earlier, some of the kids told me that they detest fairytales because everyone is always shown in a very good light, and then we began exploring how we could present something like this as a piece,” says Chattopadyaya.

The third piece features a witch who is sitting down for a portrait and suddenly realises that her powers aren’t working and she then has a nervous breakdown. The piece also features two gargoyles, which have been taken from Naik’s works, who are on the lookout for princesses. “For this piece we discussed a lot about art and architecture and where gargoyles are seen on buildings, why they were made part of the architecture and their historical values,” says Chattopadyaya. The piece will end with the narrator then posing a question to the audience where they connect what has been performed on stage to reality in this day and age.

“The pieces are all quite funny and are all their ideas. My contribution as a director is to make them aware of their body, why one moves from one spot to another, why they are looking or not looking at someone, etc, and I have helped make certain tweaks,” says Chattopadyaya.

Improvisation however forms an integral part of the performance and the children are free to be impromptu on stage. “Each of the pieces have had their own journey and they are still travelling, what we are going to present may still travel some more. And I think this is how theatre should be done,” says Chattopadyaya, adding that the children like the freedom they get to explore themselves.

And she believes that just as this play has been inspired by an art exhibition, there should be more of such merging of art forms at Sunaparanta as it gives a good platform for the children to work on their ideas. “Also, being around art helps to charge the children up, it motivates them and helps widen their performance. Thus, I believe that they should be taken to architecture or music school or a museum to help them open their minds,” she says.

(‘Tales from Beyond’ will be staged by the InStages Theatre Company on September 14, 6:30 p.m. at Sunaparanta-Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho.)

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