Premiering for the first time, the two plays are aimed at the young actors being introduced into professional theatre and the community. Speaking about the first play, the director says, “Very few know about Sambha, Krishna’s son, as he is not as popular as Pradyumna. He carries a prophecy that he’ll be responsible for death of his entire clan in the future. The irony is that though he looks just like Krishna — he is known as Krishnamukha due to this — Sambha is cursed by his own father that he’ll be the one to pronounce death upon the entire family,” explains Balakrishnan. This brings to light a lot of father-son conflicts, tells Sambha’s story from birth to death and the difficulties he faces along the way.
Kumarasambhavam , on the other hand, epitomises the rasas of love, eroticism, beauty and romance. “It has been my favourite work of Kalidasa’s since I was a child. I was first exposed to it through Amar Chitra Katha’s Shiva and Parvathi series and eventually read it in school,” he says. Balakrishna elucidates why he has been fascinated with this story. “It paints an interesting duality because though Shiva and Parvathi have two children, Ganapathi was born of her and Muruga of him. While one is a representation of the feminine, the other is masculine. Moreover, the extreme sensuality with which Kalidasa has written Kumarasambhavam has been a great fascination for me.”
When asked if it wasn’t a challenge in converting this eight-part poem into a play, Balakrishna smiles, “Kalidasa wrote plays for them to be performed so they’re stage-ready. The bigger challenge was editing this humungous poem to fit into a limited timeframe.”
Each play is an hour and 10 minutes and are set in the primordial theatre form of story-telling. “According to me, every budding actor needs to stand alone on stage without the support of lighting or costumes to truly shine. At Theatre Nisha, we work a lot with empty spaces so in these plays as well, there will only be basic lighting or adornments,” he explains. He goes on to say Aparna and Roshini were easy to train for these plays because of the rapport they share. “They’ve been my students since they were in Class 9 so both of them are comfortable working with me and Theatre Nisha.”
Venue: Alliance Française, 24, College Road, Nungambakkam
Krishna’s Dark Son: June 15 at 3 pm and June 17 at 7 pm
Kumarasambhavam: June 15 at 7 pm and June 17 at 3 pm