Tao much is too much?

Goa-based theatre group Hauns Sangeet Natya Mandal gave the audience at Lamakaan a lot to ponder over.

If you’ve ever found yourself having an existential crisis and wondering just where your place in the world — if not the universe — is, Saturday night at Lamakaan is where you just may have found the answers you’re looking for.

Staging a production of Raymond Smullyan’s Is God a Taoist? in the city, Goan theatre group Hauns Sangeet Natya Mandal left audiences deep in thought at the end of their hour-long performance. Originally written as a dialogue between man and God, Hauns’ version — directed by Dr Vidyanidhee ‘Prasad’ Vanarase — had the audience seated within the performance area, that was decorated as a cafe.

The roles of God and man was divided among nine artistes, with the ‘Gods’ dressed up as chefs and waiters taking on the mantle of mortals. Over the course of an hour, the conversation took on many facets of the meaning of human and divine existence such as sin, morality and life itself. But the whole dialogue revolved around one particular theme — why humans have free will.

Haun’s director and veteran actor Vijaykumar Naik explained that the group chose this play, not just because of the challenges it posed, but because the actors themselves related to it. “Since it’s a philosophical play and didn’t have anything actually happening in it, it’s harder to keep the audience interested for almost an hour. In this format, the audience sits very close to you so you have to focus and concentrate a lot more as an actor.”

Fellow actor Mandar Jog added, “When sir read the script to us, we found ourselves relating to what we talk about in our day to day life and in our own religion. That gave us a push to go for it and research on it. It’s very close to us and it’s what we try to believe.”

The group itself has been doing commendable work in the theatre space since 1950, when it was formed by Vijaykumar’s father Vishwanath Naik. Taking on musicals, historical plays and mythological plays, Mandar says their focus over the past couple of decades has been to contemporise their performances through workshops, conventions, festival performances and more, under their Theatre Training Centre in Ponda, Goa.

He says, “For us, it has always been a practical process. Rather than just reading a book, we will practise it and make mistakes and learn from them.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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