Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Over the last few weeks I've had the great good fortune to be involved in the production of Sanchari. A play written by Sumarthi Murty, directed by Mangai and performed by Ponni Arasu. It's been a great journey and when I heard it would tour to Bangalore I offered to be a roadie. I hope I fulfilled the needs. Watching a play in a language you don't know many times over is a fascinating experience. Watching it take shape and become a wonderful performance is something I never dreamt would happen while I was in India. Thanks to everyone for making me so welcome - and for the artistic thrills. I loved Sunday's performance in Bangalore from which the photos above are taken and the poem below inspired by.

sanchari dp293
for Sumathi Mangai and Ponni

a movement an echo of sleep as the music resounds
the tree is swallowed by the world snake who in its turn
is borne by that ancient wrinkled turtle
the sun rises over song a song that endures nine hundred years
biblical in its life span

the woman on stage is like a moving part in a Kandinsky painting
geometric colours shining against black
her dance a reminder of Oscar Schlemmer and his Bauhaus theories
these other worlds other lokas intersect across the planes

is she Persian this Kalyani is that a veil or just an ornament
she sings in Urdu and Farsi her rhythms like Greek rembetika
that segue into rap and indi pop
she puts away the veil the scarf the continuous river of connection
moves into the present

she chastises the audience her cloth blooms petals sagging
like an old rose soon revived her future assured
as a goddess that’s her in a glass case refuse her water
insist that she bloom whatever her circumstances
but the washing still has to be hung out on the line

the cloth blows in the wind draped and renewed
pegged and pulled taut the song becomes a dwelling place
nomadic existence va come says another leave behind your old life
I will make you more famous than you ever dreamt possible

and so the raga unravels twists travels and turns
the performer wrapped in music moving to its beat
she throws off tradition pauses lounges in it for a while
stands like a gypsy arms akimbo breaks into song
an Indian Piaf selling her voice

she sits waiting for the song to lift her carry her away
breath becomes sound and her hand lifts like a musical gesture
following the track of her voice but even this must transform
she unpegs the washing the river of song
redresses and asks have you seen my new mobile phone?

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