Theater practitioner Vithura Sudhakaran undertook a trip to Kashmir from Kerala on his motorbike on World Theater Day, March 27, with the aim of bringing his play ekatha, all over India. Today, he has toured six states: Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and will travel to New Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Kashmir. “I started this journey with nothing but my bike and the desire to take action,” says Sudhakaran.
Calling it Theater on Wheels, Sudhakaran says the idea is to spread the joy and relevance of theater. Encouraged by the warm response he received from venues where he performed, Sudhakaran says, “I was touched by people’s interest in theater. In some places, people didn’t leave immediately after the show. They would stay, ask questions and have a discussion. As a theater person, it’s really moving to see people appreciate the art form.”
I had been toying with the idea of creating a work like ekatha for three years. The play, a solo performance, is a stage adaptation of portions of works by renowned writers in 12 Indian languages. Putting it together took time and effort, Sudhakaran says. With the guild and help of Abhilash Pillai, former Dean of the National School of Drama and Director of the Calicut School of Drama, and PT Anilkumar, a journalist and writer, ekatha I was ready. “They helped me piece together relevant passages from different works in different languages to create this narrative. Some of the authors whose works I have used for this piece include Kavalam Narayana Panikkar (Malayalam), Na Muthuswamy (Tamil), Shivaram Karanth (Kannada), Rabindranath Tagore (Bengali) and Kalidasa (Sanskrit), to name a few,” says Sudhakaran. .
The 28-minute play, which includes 13 costume changes, touches on issues such as women’s safety and environmental conservation.
Sudhakaran says he had no contacts in every state he traveled to. “I found someone who would organize a place in another city and so far it has worked like a network. I am in awe of the way people have helped me on this journey,” says Sudhakaran.
Traversing the country as a 60-plus-year-old in soaring temperatures hasn’t been a challenge so far, Sudhakaran says. “I am driven by my passion for theater. So even if the temperature is 50 degrees Celsius, it hasn’t affected me negatively. I usually start my journey from one city to another after a performance at 5 am. Sometimes the places where I perform offer accommodation. I have also slept in gasoline bunks. I don’t travel after 7 pm The people I’ve met on this trip have been exceptionally kind to me. ”
A retired BSNL employee, Sudhakaran, has been active in theater for over 50 years. Director of Suhruth Nataka Kalari at Vithura, in Thiruvananthapuram. He received the Kalasree Award from Kerala State Sangeetha Nataka Akademi among other awards.