We may call them by various local names, but traditional Indian games hold a special place in our childhood memories, whether they be indoor board games like Ludo, and Snakes and Ladders, or outdoor ones like Kho Kho and Kabaddi. What happens when the
various elements of these games become instruments of
We let Aruna Ganesh Ram show us her brainchild Re:Play, an Immersive Theatre act, inspired by traditional Indian games, which will premiere in Chennai.
“Motivated by Immersive Theatre in London, I came up with the concept of using different elements of Indian traditional games as a device in storytelling as well as an intricate part of the plot. A ‘work-in-progress version of it was staged in London after I collaborated with artists there. Now, after different phases of development, it is finally ready to be shown to audiences in Chennai,” says Aruna, who has been involved with the theatre world for the last 10 years while leading ‘Landing Stage’. After taking a break to do her master’s degree in Advanced Theatre Practice from the Central School of Speech and Drama, she has founded ‘Visual Respiration’, her new theatre outfit.
What makes Immersive Theatre unique is spontaneity at all levels. “We don’t follow the conventional way of starting with a story then making it into a script, the development process is more organic. immersive plays need a trigger, and the narrative sketches are developed in stages through experiment and involvement of the group. For example, once I carried marbles to the studio. The sound they made, their movement, and how they interacted with the space, provided us the trigger for a narrative,” explains Aruna, who has been supported by Manasi Subramaniam in writing the script.
The concept might sound simple and easy, but it took a lot of research to give it shape. “We collaborated with a Chennai-based company, Kreeda Games, who make traditional Indian games. Some parts of the play have been based on the feedback we got from their customers which was to do with adding that much needed human touch,” Aruna says.
There are three other actors on stage, apart from herself, namely, Manav Chidambaran , Supraja Narayanaswamy and Ujwal Nair. Aruna promises that this is not one of those plays where audiences are expected to sit and watch passively. Re:Play plans to engage with their audience during the performance.
So how agreeable will Chennai’s theatre goers be with this new way of story telling? “I think it will be an
interesting experience for Chennai audiences. We are excited to see how they react to it,” says Aruna.
Re:Play premieres on September 19, 20 and 21 at the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation (Alwarpet), followed by a public show on September 28 and 29 at Spaces (Besant Nagar)
In this blog space, we talk about performance processes, interdisciplinary practices and various ways of creating performance and engaging audiences.