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Once again, this Goan theatre group are en route New Delhi after being invited to perform ‘Vedharan’, a play based on the traditional theatre form of Goa ‘kaalo’ at the Bharat Rang Mahotsav. NT BUZZ highlights

Tales from the stage

At Asia’s largest theatre festival to be held at the open air auditorium of National School of Drama, on Sunday, February 16, 24 artistes under the banner of Abhivyaktee will perform a play based on the traditional theatre form of Goa, kaalo.

Written by Anagha Deshpande with direction and music design by Saish Deshpande, ‘Vedharan’ is completely based on the traditional theatre style of Goa that involves Shankasura stealing Vedas from Brahmadev, and ends with his traditional duel with Lord Vishnu who avenges Brahma and gains Vedas back from Shankasur. 

Speaking to NT BUZZ, Saish Despande tells us that the play links the beginning and end with a story that satirically addresses to the socio-political issues with a touch of modern values and fresh songs to add the flavour.

“The play keeping with tradition begins with a prayer in the Poorvaranga where two Bhatajis are trying to please the gods with wrong interpretation of the prayers, after which there is a comical interaction between the Hardas (Sutradhar) and them,” he says.

The play also showcases the traditional rhythmic fight between Shankasur and Vishnu. Here, Shankasur loses the combat and returns the Vedas back to Lord Brahma which are then made accessible to all the living beings. 

“The play ends with singing of ovi, the traditional hymn expressing the hope that each one may get an access to education which is everyone’s right,” says Deshpande adding that ‘Vedharan’ talks about the ‘Vedas’ as a symbol of knowledge which cannot be anyone’s ownership.

The director in his note says: “The city bred youth of today sees little and knows almost nothing of the rich theatre tradition of our region and thus ‘Vedharan’ was conceived in a special theatre festival; ‘Lok Rang’ which involved research and production of plays based on Goan folk theatre styles. It was a dream project which helped us (about 35 artistes in all) to seek and learn the possibilities of our traditional theatre form, kaalo.”

While incorporating the elements of ‘kaalo’, the design of ‘Vedharan’ presents it for the proscenium, utilising the benefits that the modern performing space offers.

“While maintaining the authenticity like the elaborate Poorvarang, the presentation later takes freedom in theatrical reality which I feel is a step towards exploring the form,” Deshpande explains.

While this play is being produced for the love of Goan folk theatre, Deshpande acknowledges the support Vinayak Khedekar and Ulhas Velingkar for their guidance.

Abhivyaktee taking theatre movement to the pedestal

Formed in the year 1997 at Panaji by the alumnus of Kala Academy’s School of Drama and since then thriving for artistic expressions for children and adults for a socio-cultural cause, the theatre group’s regular activities include theatre classes for youth and workshops to aid the total development of the personality of an individual using the elements of performing arts. 

Because of the work they do, they have in the past been supported by national-level organisations like West Zone Cultural Centre, Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi and also by the National School of Drama (NSD) for two theatre camps outside Goa.

Headed by Saish Deshpande, Abhivyaktee also designs and produces issue-based plays, theatricals, musicals and thematic presentations. 

Some of the regular activities undertaken by us include include production-oriented theatre workshops from 1997 onwards, plays and skits in Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit and English, creating background scores for multi-cultural events and contests, producing plays for radio and television, organising World Theatre Day celebrations and ‘Yuva Jagruti’, an annual cultural event for and by youth, besides, organising thematic multilingual theatre festivals and publishing scripts. 

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