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The journey of a therakoothu artist, narrated in therakoothu

A therukoothu artist and his passion for the art form; his trials, tribulations and missed opportunities that obstruct him in following his passion — Theatre Akku’s Adavu, is a play that comments on the reality and unfairness of it. Directed by Vetri MV, the play which will be staged this weekend, follows a short format therukoothu form to convey this common trope.

After his stint as an actor in various television channels, Vetri had started travelling to explore theatre. That is when he chanced upon Indianostrum Theatre stationed in Puducherry and its weekend workshops. From there began his journey with theatre. Two years and a performance in Paris later, a few from the same group formed Theatre Akku in Chennai. “After coming back to Chennai, a lot of us realised that there wasn’t a full-time theatre facility in the city. This led to Theatre Akku,” says Vetri. The motley group was sure about using traditional art forms for their production and thus came the idea of performing therukoothu.

Therukoothu is becoming quite popular now — but mostly in villages. In the city, however, this is not the case. Usually a therukoothu performance happens overnight but in the city, nobody has the luxury of time,” speaks Vetri of the inception of Adavu. “We thought of doing a one-hour performance that at least introduces the audience to theatre and this particular art form.”

Since then, Adavu has travelled all over the state with more than 16 shows — for both intimate and large audiences. The play has been staged in schools, colleges, for tribal settlements and other communities. “We have taken a very simple concept, but tried to trace the story of this artist, by borrowing techniques from his art form,” says Vetri who had also sought the guidance of veteran therukoothu artist, Purasai Sambanda Kanappa Thambiran, a Kalaimamani awardee, for the production.

Spreading awareness about this art form, especially in cities, was also kept in mind when Vetri conceptualised the play. “The flavour of therukoothu would remain the same. What we have tweaked is the rhythm of the music and a few adavus (steps). The music was done by Aarti Paramjyoti, who rearranged the existing songs to bring a re-defined outlook,” Vetri concludes.

Adavu will be staged on April 27, at 7 pm in Buck’s Amphitheatre, YMCA grounds.

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