Narrating a folk form

Ranga Shankara is holding a first-of-its-kind theatre festival meant solely for children, which is also an attempt to bring young people out of computer and television. The debut play, Lakshapati Rajana Kathe by Spandana, saw many of the children excited. For most of them, it was their first play but they also had lot of expectations from it.

Directed by B Jayashri, the play was based on a folk tale, written by M S Nagaraj, revolving around Kulavathi, a maid at King Dharmashekara’s Palace. She is banished from the kingdom when she reveals that she is carrying the King’s child (Lakshapati). Over time, the kingdom begins to suffer from a severe drought, when Shivajangama, a saint, demands that a magic pearl that brings rain be brought to him within six months.The king’s four evil sons go in search of the pearl.

In the meanwhile, Lakshapati reveals his identity. The king challenges Lakshapati to bring the pearl if he really is what he claims to be. Lakshpati, in quest of the magic pearl, meets a sage who directs him to a divine maiden who is in possession of the precious magic pearls. His brothers, who have squandered away all the wealth, trap Lakshapati Raja on his return journey, kill him and decamp with the magic pearls. The journey then unfolds when Lakshapati comes back to life to tell his tale.

The play told in the form of Kinnari Jogeraata, one of the oldest folk forms of rural north Karnataka, didn’t seem to invoke the required interest initially. Reasons for this may be due to the lack of familiarity among children to the dialect of the North Karnataka and the story actually began only after the interval.

The narration style and B Jayashri’s amazing voice and expressions entertained the children and many elders present. But many, who were leaving the show at intermission, explained that the children were either too sleepy or  failed to understand what was happening. Though the play was flawless, it didn’t manage to leave an impact and live up to children’s expectations.

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