Playwright : Rastrakavi Kuvempu
Director : Savita Bairappa
Group : Back (ON) Stage, Karnataka
Language : Kannada
Duration : 90 Mns.
‘Smashaana Kurukshetram’, penned by Vishwakavi Kuvempu is a metaphorical play. One must have heard, read and learned about the battle of Kurukshetra which lasted for 18 days in the Mahabhaarata. The play, which summarizes the aftermath of this gruesome battle, is full of its consequences, survivors’ pains-mirth, repentance, agony, agitation, contemplation and introspection. A war can have different dimensions of caste, creed, religion, between nations, between the rich and poor. Above all, war is something that happens between person and persona, between minds. A sensitive portrayal of the same has been done in this play, ‘Smashaana Kurukshetram’.
As Kuvempu has emphasized on all the characters of the ‘Smashaana Kurukshetram’ play, our director has also used the languages, art and cultures of all the nations in dialogues, costumes, dances and in make-up. The drama is built through stylized acting by including Doddaata, Yakshagaana, Kalarippayattu, Gamaka art forms as if they were part of the play. Especially, India’s ‘unity in diversity’ has been neatly shown by the adoption of regional language. ‘Change is the rule of world’ has been subtly shown in silence through ‘Aangikaabhinaya’. The idea that this play of ubiquitous subject matter can lead to a wider way of thinking, at an expansive level, is top notch.
Mrs. Savita Bairappa has completed a two-year theatre diploma course at the MES Theatre School. After her graduation from National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi in 2009 she served as an actress for three years at the repertory company of NSD. She is leading her drama troupe, ‘Aayaama’ in Bangalore. She has worked as an actress, director, backstage artist in Indian Ensemble, Saanehalli, Shiva Sanchara, Naataka Mane, Adarsha Mahila Mandali, Drushya, Nataranga, Samastaru, Suchitra Baalajagattu, Janamanadaata, Saaphalya theatre troupes. She has been experimenting with different possibilities of acting skills in her acting and direction. She also worked as a Professor of Acting in Adarsha Film and TV Institute. Her first directorial play for ‘Back on Stage’ troupe is ‘Smashaana Kurukshetram’ penned by ‘Raashtrakavi Kuvempu’.
The great Kannad poet, novelist, playwright and academic, Kuppalli Venkattappagauda Putappa alias Kuvempu is considered to be the greatest poet of Kannad language of 20th century. Born on 29 December 1904 at Hirekodige, Koppa, Chikmagalur, he was the leading component of the literary movement Navodaya. Having mastery on almost all the disciplines of literary writing, he penned the epfic ‘Sri Ramayana Darshanam’, with its first volume published in 1949 and the second on in the year 1957. Besides, he wrote plays like Birugaali, Maharaatri, Smashana Kurukshethra, Shoodra Tapaswi and many more.’ Sanyaasi Mattu Itare Kathegalu’, ‘Malegaladalli Madumagalu’ are amongst his numerous story collections. Apart from this, he wrote stories and poems for children as well, with a handful of literary criticism. Translations, Biographies of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, essay and other writings. He panned down his Autobiography with the title ‘Nenapina Doniyali’. He wrote the movie ‘Kanooru Heggadithi’, which was directed by the another Kannad legend, Girish Karnad. The notable awards, he was honoured with, include Padma Bbhushan (1958), Jnanapith Award (1967), Padma Vibhushan (1988) and Karataka Ratna (1992).
From the past two yea*rs, the world has been shaken by Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, when theatre artists were struggling to live their lives, patrons of art came forward to financially help these artists. When artists of dignity didn’t accept the help, the patrons formed ‘Back on Stage’ group through which they decided to hold a one-month online workshop for them, after which they will be given the remuneration as well. As per that, the team invited applications from those who made their living by completely relying on theatre and 30 artists including actors, actresses and backstage artists were selected through this process. Recognizing the performance of these artists during the course of online workshop, the ‘Back on Stage’ patrons decided to do a production with these artists and prepared them for the same for the next two months. They were divided into two groups of 15 people each and directors were chosen for both the teams. One of these two teams is ‘Tavasyam’. The director for this team is Mrs. Savita B. The play chosen is ‘Smashaana Kurukshetram’. The play has already been staged thrice by ‘Tavasyam’ on the guidance of the Director, under the auspices of ‘Back on Stage’ and hopes to take this ubiquitous drama everywhere.