Monday, March 27, 2023

Celebrate the stage

Today is the World Theatre Day, a day of celebration for those who see the value and importance of theatre as an art form. These celebrations were instituted in 1962, but celebration of theatre has been going on in this venue since at least 1906. That was the year when Suguna Vilas Sabha staged their play Kaadalar Kangal here. Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar, the founder of Suguna Vilas Sabha and a pioneer of Tamizh theatre, introduced the 'evening show' to the Madras audience here. That was quite a change from the then prevalent practice of having plays between late night and early dawn; the revised timings attracted the 'family audience' which Sambandha Mudaliar's works catered to.

But those were not the only ones. Shakespeare (how can one forget the bard on this day!) would have found it difficult to follow the dialogues in Jwalita Ramanan or Vannipurathu Vanigan even as he recognised their plots. For the actors got on stage to speak in Tamizh; and Jwalita (Juliet), Ramanan (Romeo), Shylock, the vanigan (merchant) of Vannipuram made their way into the populace of Madras. 

It might look very unlike a drama theatre now; but as it gets restored fully, one hopes this stage at the Victoria Public Hall will be able to host a show or three on one of the World Theatre Days this decade!


No comments: