Indian Rope Trick (2020) is based on the Indian rope trick, a legend that has continued to capture people's imaginations.
In societies where different ethnic and class groups coexist, majority forces use myths and narratives as tools of domination. When these stories are told repeatedly, they can become commonly held "truth". We see ourselves accepting these narratives, including deception, propaganda and fake news. The reality that people willingly believe stories as facts serves as a basis for building social structures. Led by Venkateswaran's perspective that questions the construction of nationalist and ethnic-nationalist identities, the audience may encounter mystical shadows nestled deep within their interiority.
Co-produced by Kyoto University of Art and Design's Kyoto Performing Arts Center and Theater Commons Tokyo.
Duration: 70 minutes
Criminal Tribes Act (2017) is a theatre piece that examines the inherent conflicts between the speaker and his subject, the spoken and the unspoken, and the inescapability of the 'us', 'them' and 'the other' social order. The piece ‘investigates’ the ways in which India has inherited modes of social exclusion and how it was legitimized through the colonial history. Starting with the example of Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, a legislation brought during the British rule which ostracized and labelled millions in India as 'born criminals', who later ‘became’ habitual offenders and recently, ex-criminals and de-notified tribes, the performance explores the human consequence and conditions brought out by social exclusion. The hierarchical classification of people based on caste and status within the Indian social structure dictates that individuals belonging to certain castes be socially excluded and alienated. The colonial state transformed such pre-colonial prejudices of Indian society into a structured classification of people. And in the post imperial/post colonial now, these stigmas are continuously re-inscribed on the bodies of individuals resulting in a complex human condition – that of broken existence.
This performance is a discursive conversation between two actors, Chandru and Rudy. They talk to each other about their backgrounds, experiences, differences; they talk to us, the spectators, and as they do so, one emerges as the speaker and the other, the subject. Privilege and disentitlement are personified as the speaker and the subject. Between them arises the conflicts of the spoken, the unspoken, the visible and the invisible, through which we are able to see the violent social engineering project of 'unseeing', and how the unrepresentably real violence fuels the fear which maintains this social order.
Duration: 50 minutes
When We Dead Awaken (2012), inspired by Henrik Ibsen's same play, captures the unique style of Sankar Venkateswaran with a mostly non-verbal dramaturgy. The play dwells into the heart of Professor Rubek, an aging sculptor, to express the existential struggles of art and art-making. The play features renowned German dancer Urs Dietrich with actors of Theatre Roots & Wings.
Duration: 70 minutes
101 Lullabies (2012) is an open-ended voice performance based on Bhasa's Urubhangam from the Indian epic Mahabharata. The venteran actor Mandakini Goswami performs as the charactor Gandhari, the blind-folded mother who lost her hundred sons in the battle.
Duration: 60 minutes
* This is a part of result of Bhasa Study by Grant-in-Aid for Science Research (C), JSPS.
The Water Station (2011) is a silent play written by a prominent Japanese playwright Shogo Ohta in 1981.
Walking through a barren landscape, eighteen travelers stop by at a dripping water faucet. They drink, soak, meet, love, fight, weep, separate and in the end, leave, while a man living in a junk pile casually observes their actions from above. The play is about loneliness, the need for sustenance and the fragility of love.
Sahyande Makan- The Elephant Project (2008) is an intercultural theatre production conceived and directed by Sankar Venkateswaran. The performance is based on the Malayalam poem Sahyande Makan (Son of Western Ghats) written by a prominent poet Vyloppilly Sreedhara Menon in 1944. The work, which features renowned Japanese performer, Micari as a tusker.
The performance on a fundamental level questions the ways in which man has been dealing with nature. Man’s relationship has always been dominating and his objectives are to plunder and loot. Elephant is a metaphor to the indomitable force of nature as well as its defenselessness. To observe an elephant shatter branches from a tree is to know how something that has taken ages to grow can be devastated in seconds, but this is nothing compared to the irreparable annihilation that man has caused.
This is a performance, which draws on music, voice, poetry, theatre, acting, rhythm, dance, and trance. The performance features live music, powerful drumming and magnificent display of pyrotechniques.
Duration: 70 minutes
Quick Death (2007), written by an Australian playwright Richard Murphet, was premiered in New Delhi as the company's debut production.
Duration: 45 minutes