A perfect theatrical storytelling that doesn’t stumble or strike a false note, The Year of the Rooster is a hilarious English adaptation of a Chinese folktale, which retains the Chinese tradition of performance, while narrating the charming timeless family entertainer. The theme is centered around a wealthy nobleman Wang Yun and the adversities which unfold when his third daughter goes against the grain and marries against her father’s wishes. The 90 minute play is a charitable fundraiser. The proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to create a bridge fund by Indian Cancer Society that would be used to fund diagnosis/initial treatment for children under 18 years diagnosed with the disease. This bridge fund provides financial support till the main treatment funds are available.
Enthusing how the intent is to get young Bengalureans to appreciate the various aspects of the theatre art, Pallavi Chaitra, one of the protagonists and a theatre enthusiast shares, “I play the role of Lady White Waters, the second daughter to Prime Minister of China, Wang Yun. Lady White Waters is married to a gentleman of rank but not of substance, with many grey shades to his persona. My character evolves from being a snotty, arrogant and patronising wife to a helpless daughter in despair when her husband is to be prosecuted in the closing and final act. Theatrical forms of expression have always intrigued me. I have been watching many plays during the past few years, a few of the recent productions of BLT encouraged me to try my hand at theatre production. It was director Archana Kariappa and the director of Bangalore Little Theatre Vijay Padaki who thought I could play this role and helped me perform.” There are 14 actors at a time in the play. BLT has twin actors performing every character ie, each role has two actors identified and readied. That means there are 28 actors performing in two groups. Each actor performs in 10 plays. This helps the actors not get exhausted, while managing their schedules effectively.
Designed to offer cross-cultural exposure to their students, one can also experience active engagement and interaction between the narrator and the audiences throughout the play. “We ensured that the props used in this drama are so very transparent. It keeps them engaged and aware at the same time. Therefore, what emerges is something rare in modern drama. It begins and ends with bare stage,” reveals Deepak Rao Pawar, an MNC professional, who plays the gardener, one of the main characters. The charming family entertainer is mainly targeted at adolescents from the age of 15 and upwards. “For children, it does boost literacy; encourage communication, imagination and curiosity. All of this within a safe environment, plus it’s great fun. Kids have loved our play so much, they gasped, laughed and clapped at the beautiful sequences. So, we are sure Bengaluru won’t disappoint us either,” he adds. Swathy Padmanabhan, who plays Still Waters, the third daughter and one of the pivotal characters, believes the character invokes the audience to get more proactive. “Through a journey of 18 years in this play, Still Waters is assertive and takes charge of decisions. This helps me connect better, on a personal level because I believe in standing up for myself too.”
This adaptation in English retains much of the Chinese tradition of performance. “The style of storytelling is comic, down-to-earth, poking fun at human nature all along. The Chinese tradition also has great simplicity in staging the play. It begins and ends with a bare stage. A great deal is achieved with very little onstage, pushing the audience’s imagination all the time. The stage hands take charge of the play, making the characters in the story their creations,” concludes Chaitra.
–The play will be staged on December 17 at MLR Convention Centre.