Jeevacharithram (The Biography): A Novelistic Drama
Theatre is at once a showcase and a forum, a medium through which a society’s ideas can be displayed and its conflicts, dilemmas and struggles can be debated.
The drama produced & presented by Central Arts, Vellur, in Payyanur, ‘Jeevacharithram’ (The Biography) belongs to the theatre of debate. It is not a drama of an individual’s will but of a society. Biography, originally conceived by the West as one of an individual’s story is shifted to that of a society. The zest for social life so abundantly felt in a dynamic age pulsates in every inch of the drama.
Theatre remained largely a male bastion. Women, Nature, all the other phenomenon existed in the margins. The drama openly seeks to disrupt complacency with this status quo and comment on the immediate day-to-day issues. It is a powerful political act as well as uninhibited aesthetic exploration.
Not to portray a character as a hero or even as a credible force for change in society is an anathema for the conventional eye. To eschew dramatic conclusion and climax also is unthinkable. No once is a principal character or protagonist in this drama but the society.
All the world is a stage to Shakespeare and here this drama explores how stage is also a world. A seemingly helpless populace of a village in Kasaragod comes to the centre of the stage/world and the centripetal is undermined by the centrifugal forces. Serious and sober public demands more intelligent and focused responses to major issues and no more gigantic cut outs of heroes, ‘noble savages’, saintly mothers or brainless play things- a malady of the mainstream drama. The dalit, damit, feminist causes are made part of the class struggle. The Communist Manifesto read out in the drama manifests the political base up on which the drama is built up.
This drama imagines the death of the family, private property and the state in the true sense of the term. Champan is not able to continue his conjugal tie, Balakrishnan Nambiar disowns his properties & Chomaru resists the state intervention in to their affairs-the three significant characters of the drama.
The great Aristotalian Unities, the textual version of imperialism, is broken by introducing innovative digressions to John Abraham et al. Tragedy, a male play, is given a hit by introducing carnivalesque laughter as things once thought as daring have become routine and common place.
One of the greatest achievements of this drama has been the ruthless democratisation of art of the multiplicity of struggling and often competing voices. ‘The Biography’ attempts an (alter) native historiography, in the body language of the underdogs.
N. Sasidharan & S. Sunil - the makers, and the actors like Babu Annur, Rajitha Madhu, Sargam Damu, Ramesan, Suresan, Krishnan, Ajayan, and two young ones - all go to make this play unconventional by unlearning the concept of the traditional drama by breathing a novelistic life into the theatrical form.
Theatrical representation is finite and leaves behind it, behind its actual presence, no trace, no object to carry off. It is neither a book nor a work, but an energy and in this sense it is the only art of life as Derrida has put it.