How to skin a giraffe?

Well, this blog is not about how to skin giraffe in literal sense! Absolutely not. This is about a play of the same name I had watched recently  at famous drama hotspot Ranga Shankara in Bengaluru during my recent visit to the city.

I picked up this weirdly named play to watch over the weekend. And I would say I enjoyed it. But don’t ask me the relation of the name of the play and story in it. I did not find any direct, to my best of knowledge. But let’s keep aside the name and focus on the story. The story is actually simple. It is about various attempts made for a marriage between daughter and sons of two kingdoms. The play was in English mainly, but it also used lot of other Indian languages. The presentation, stage, costume, multi-lingual narration, and also multi-modal live music makes it unique. The costume gave me a feeling of Greek era. The stage and props used for depicting various characters such as king, queen etc is very minimalist and innovative. Theater is a place where all such liberties can be taken, things can be denoted and told indirectly, and also lot of white spaces are left for interpretation by audience. This makes it very lively.

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The story also had an undercurrent which basically trying to get these two married for convenience and not because they genuinely like each other. This is a comment on the society’s attitude towards marriage of and for convenience, for other benefits. This used to be very common all over, include princely states of India during pre-Independence era. It seems that this play is inspired by 19th century play titled Leonce and Lena by German playwright George Buchner. Their Facebook page tells about this adaption. The adaption of German plays is not new to Indian theater, especially GRIPS theater which originated in Germany has grown in India, about which I have written here. It is adapted for presentation keeping the theme intact. The original play related details are on Wiki here. The names of the main characters are kept same which are Popo and Pipi.

The play starts with king’s monologue titled “I must think” where he gives various reasons as to why he must think for other people. This monologue comments on and points to the life of general people which is so monotonous, boring where they don’t have time to think what is good and bad for them. This consisted of absurd expressions and terms, with very interactive sense in it. Then play slowly elaborates the intentions of the king and the queen about the marriage, which both denounce and escape their respective residence to run away independently. The play then uses a modern dating show concept to bring them back, understand each other, and eventually make them like each other. At the end, both king and queen makes them marry by forging them, this throws the light on the mindset of the society.

The dating show and also the host of that show itself was impressive. The host interacts with audience in interesting way, to tickle them, and make them speak their mind. The other distinctive feature of this play was its music. The duo sitting on the stage at the rear side, had carried various musical instruments with them, Indian, western, and others as well. They playing them during the scenes added a different color to the play. All in all this 100 minute social satire was different experience which unfolded in front of us.

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