Adishakti: Reclaiming Power & Place

Theatre group Adishakti is slowly shaping an avant-garde language of expression on stage by reflecting the nomenclature of adroitly conceived, often female-driven plots, vividly bringing together dance, movement, and emotional craft.

When you watch a play by Adishakti, you aren’t a mere observer. You are a participant in a visual symphony, invited to explore the sensorial depths of the artistic charisma that unfolds before your eyes. Not surprising, as the theatre group calls itself the Laboratory for Theatre Art Research.

Based on the nature-cupped, three-and-a-half acres on the outskirts of Auroville, Puducherry, Adishakti was founded in 1981 by the late theatre-doyen, Veenapani Chawla. “Ours is an effort to find a language to travel through time,” says Nimmy Raphel, Managing Trustee, Adishakti. “To create a language for ourselves, a narrative that challenges pre-established lines of thought,” adds Veenapani. The group is busy rehearsing for the upcoming performance of Urmila that will move from Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai in January, to other cities across India. Lithe movement (evocative of hours of Kalaripayattu), searing dialogue delivery (perfected breath work at play), sparse props (a la therukoothu) and eloquent silent moments (played up by the sudden absence of music) mark the signature elements of this production too.

Urmila is a play based on the lesser-known wife of Lakshman, in Ramayana. When Lakshman followed Ram and Sita into …

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald

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