An Armenian poem on the Puducherry stage

As an old woman goes about her daily chore of sorting lentils, her mind wanders. Her memory revisits instances from her past, and poignantly she realises the passage of time. Woman Cleaning Lentils — a poem by Armenian poet Zahrad, is what inspired Lentils and Stones, a collusion of theatre, puppetry and dance, which will take to stage this weekend at Adishakti Theatre, Puducherry. Conceived by Vijay Ravikumar as part of the Take Flight support and mentorship programme by Perch Collective, Chennai, the play focusses on the natural concept of ageing.

Vijay, who has been part of Perch Collective as an actor, says that the production, being staged for the second time, is “still evolving”. Each time it is performed, a new dimension takes shape. “In the story, the woman realises that unseen domestic work that swallowed her adult life, scooped her up as a child and deposited her off in the present, as a lonely old woman,” he says. As the storyline goes forward, her television watches on, “in a curious reversal of roles”. The television wishes to understand this woman’s paradoxical relationship to her past. While Vijay plays the protagonist’s role, manifested through puppetry, the television too comes alive as a puppet. “The play uses the poem to explore memory and labour, and the general theme of ageing,” says the director.

How did the idea of using puppetry come about? “I have been working with puppets since 2001, on and off. In this production particularly, the characters do not speak as they would in real life. It’s a very evocative character trait that makes you read between the lines and puppets, I thought, will work well in that setting,” concludes Vijay who plans to bring the play to Chennai and Bengaluru soon.

Lentils and Stones will be staged on July 20, 7 pm at Adishakti Theatre, Edayanchavadi Road, Near Auroville Post, Puducherry. Entry is free for all.


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