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THIRAIKADALODI (AKAM)? - Programme Note
Choreo-Theatre
75 mins, 2002

"THIRAIKADALODI" (AKAM)?, the choreo-play in English and Tamil explores the haunting anthem of our century - exile and displacement, identity and memories.

The ancient Tamil saying "TIRAIKADALODI DIRAVIYAM THEDU" means "CROSS THE SEAS AND FIND YOUR FORTUNE". This was the motto for many enterprising communities from Tamilnadu in olden days. But today, crossing the seas often means fleeing from one's home in search of not fortune but safety.

AHAM (which means "a woman's inner world") is performed by a group of 14 actors and dancers who will each tell their own story. A woman's inability to bury her son according to custom, children who play with skulls instead of toys, wealthy Asian women who are now sweeping warehouses in Europe, husbands and sons all killed in an endless war of terrorism and the promise of a new homeland... the dirge goes on with dance, drama and music intermingling constantly.

The words and images are drawn from various sources. With a part of the text for the production written by PRASANNA RAMASWAMY as well as passages from Prof. RAMANUJAM's "VERIYATTAM" which is an adaptation of the Greek play "Trojan Women", sections of "TROJAN WOMEN" in an English version by Don Taylor and a short excerpt from an adaptation of the Greek play "ANTIGONE" in English translation, the textual sources include ARAVIND APPADURAI's poem "Pulam Peyarndha Un", CHERAN's poem "Kuzhandaikal", PRAMEEL's poems, a Carribean poem, and two poems by WISLAVA SIMBORSKA (Poland). The canvas is vast and yet intimate…

Designed and directed by PRASANNA RAMASWAMY, the production brings together well-known artists from different disciplines; Mu.RAMASAMY - actor/director and academic from the Tamil theatre, BHAGIRATHY NARAYANAN and P.C.RAMAKRISHNA - dominant figures in Chennai's English theatre, ANITA RATNAM - dancer and cultural activist, M.NATESH - well known painter, installation artist and set/light designer, REVATHY SANKKARAN - musician, television actress and multi-disciplined artist, PALANI and CHANDRA - two full-time professional actors from Koothu-p-Pattarai Repertory Company, AKILA - professional dancer and musician with theatre experience, SRIKANTH - professional Bharathanatyam and dance- theatre (Bhagavatha Mela) artist, AARTI BODANI - a professional dancer trained in classical, contemporary and folk styles and NIKHILA - director and actress from the English theatre.

The twentieth century is the century of immigrations; of movements of peoples from their homelands and their soil to a distant shore, often hostile and very strange. Terorism, war and genocide have created a generation of refugees who have been born in remote camps and who do not know what it is to have a normal childhood.

How have we allowed humanity to come to this state? When war is decided and fought by men, what happens to the women and a new generation of children? Who is responsible and how will history record this bizarre phenomenon?

The questions remain unanswered, new questions are asked, and we look on as mute spectators as history repeats itself.