This performance which is a collaborative act between artists from Thailand & India has emerged from ākāśa (katha’koli) performance practice brings the together the version of Balajan Beowa’s Ramayana & the epic Thai poem called “Phra Abhai Mani” by Sunthorn Phu. The performance will be in Thai, Bangla & English. The young artists from Thailand will be filling the performance with their perspectives, interpretations and poetics.
Performed by Janardan Ghosh, Faridah Rossanee Kaesman, Nat Theansawat & Sudipta Dawn.
Balajan Beowa lived in the Tetulia village which is situated in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. She has infused the epic with the culture, language, ritual and customs of her village. Her version of Ramayana, although unique, has many similarities with the Thai Ramakien.
This performance is a tribute to her and many anonymous artists who are the voices of the subaltern.
This performance also brings into focus the folk theatre forms which are fluid and non dogmatic especially Gambhira which is practiced in Northern part of West Bengal and Rashdhari which was a folk theatre form in Rajasthan. In this manner we try to inform the young audience of our collective intangible cultural heritage and also adopt and apply the traditional and folk methods into contemporary performances and even in our daily verbal and non verbal acts of communication.
Ramayana is a living history, ever mysterious, embellishing our native pride with its endless narrations. I have encountered many versions and have cherished the plurality of a true epic.
The journey that began with the classical Valmiki’s lyrical composition moving into the labyrinth of the popular poetry of Tulsidas to a raw unfinished folk tale of Balajan Bewoa has intrigued me to revisit the phenomena again and again. We wish to work majorly on a few interesting episodes of Ramayana extricated from the various versions of Ramayana to reflect on contemporary time, life, politics and heteronormative codes of our society. Balajan Bewoa’s story on Ramayana collected from a village in Murshidabad District, WB is an interesting transposition of the epic into a regular mundane happening. The story has a resemblance with the approach found in the Jain Ramayana and the Adbhuta Ramayana, wherein we find Sita to be Ravana’s daughter. Apart from Ramayana, we have other interventions to enjoy the epic phenomena. The interpolation of the Thai epic poem, Phra Aphai Mani, in the text creates a new refrain celebrating the ancient myth Ramayana, juxtaposed by an anti-colonist work. Thailand also has its own version of Ramayana named Ramakien, the hero Phra Narai is an incarnation of Vishnu like Rama. The prince Phra Aphai Mani is also empowered by Vishnu. We are trying to locate the cross-cultural resonances all-over.
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