This nondescript Kagemanti village is gearing up to host what is billed as the country’s biggest theatre experiment, starting Wednesday.
With three stages spread over four acres of open air theatre, where more than 200 actors will enact a thousand characters for plays and dramas on an array of subjects, including environment, human relations and religious topics, connoisseurs can only expect an epic of a show. Most of the artistes are from Mysore and Mandya districts, mainly undergraduate and postgraduate students. The tickets are priced Rs 100 per head. The theatre megathon experiment, titled ‘Arya Dravida’, is being pioneered in Kannada by the Charvaka troupe. The promoters have taken 16 acres on contract, with the performance area and the two spectators’ gallery using up six acres, atop a hillock.
The performance theme on stage one, titled ‘Hettavara Angala,’ is anthropology, including man’s struggles through his evolution. Stage two (called ‘Naganela’) tackles man’s tryst with the environment and his religious practices.
The third platform has been christened ‘Dravida Dhare,’ depicting the rise of Buddhism to restore egalitarianism in society, its heydays, the Bhakti movement, the clash of the three Acharyas of Hindu philosophy and the ills plaguing ‘kaliyuga’. The storyline tries to analyse reasons from the past for these miseries.
There will be five shows of non-stop performances for 10 hours, beginning at 7 pm, on alternate days at the sprawling campus that has come up in natural environs. A total of 40 stage artistes have worked for an year and a half, along with hundreds of workers, to ready the sets.
The script is based on the writings and speeches of Dr B R Ambedkar. The experiment, comprising more than 60 songs, is said to be an effort at setting right India’s ‘twisted’ history. The total budget is Rs one crore, with lighting, equipment, music and costumes costing Rs three lakh per show, said the creator, director and stage designer for the mega drama. The theatre project is a joint venture of the department of Kannada and Culture and the Social and Cultural Trust. The department has chipped in with a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the effort.