SIMHIKA: Daughter of the Forest

Natya Vriksha presents SIMHIKA: Daughter of the Forest, a performance-dialogue by dancer (Padmashri) Geeta Chandran

SIMHIKA: Daughter of the Forest

The protagonist Simhika is a fictional character created for a Kathakali dance-theater performance written by Kottayam Thampuran. In the original play Kimira Vadham, the Kathakali narrative explores Simhika’s story vividly painting her as a rakshasi/demoness.

In her presentation, Dancer Geeta Chandran invests Simhika with voice and agency, unveiling the thoughts and conflicts in the protagonist through the process of anavarna, a technique in Bharatanatyam abhinaya, where layer after layer is unpeeled to reveal subtle truths. Chandran casts her as a woman, a wife, a nurturer and daughter of the forest who becomes a victim of circumstance.

The forest also takes on multiple roles: sakhi/confidant, sakshi/witness; both nurturer and betrayer. And – like the audience – the forest becomes a mute spectator to injustice and patriarchy.

Simhika’s transformation through the technique of rupantara is also a commentary on our contemporary times where we judge people based only on their outward physical appearance.

The hour-long performance dialogue is situated in a theatrical set that resonates with the forest setting. It has been crafted by Jugal Kishore Sharma and his team of traditional flower decorators from Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh.

The script has been adapted from Thampuran’s original by Geeta Chandran and has been rendered in Sanskrit by AR Sreekrishnan.

The music scape for Simhika has been developed as a combined effort of the dancer working in close communion with vocalist K Venkateshwaran and percussionist Manohar Balatchandirane. Simhika’s costume has been created by Sandhya Raman.

Where: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre

When: 6 August, 7 pm

 

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