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Ibsen & the Oz connection

It’s an Indo-Australian production, an adaptation in Malayalam of a play originally written in Danish by a Norwegian playwright. And it will be staged in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sagara Kanyaka — a collaborative multi-media production between Brisbane Powerhouse, Kerala’s Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre and Australian ensemble Topology — is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play The Lady from the Sea.

It will be staged at the Science City auditorium at 8.30pm on both days as part of the Oz Fest, the biggest exposition of Australian culture.

The original production had been by the Kerala group for the 2009 Ibsen Festival in Delhi. In its current avatar, it is a “hi-tech and very costly presentation ” involving cinematic projection, special lighting, live music and choreography.

“After the Ibsen Fest, we were invited to perform at the NSD Bharat Rang Mahotsav in 2010, where Andrew Ross of Brisbane Powerhouse invited us for a festival in Brisbane. Everything was more or less the same but we used recorded music on the loop, which Brisbane Powerhouse offered to change. After a lot of discussions we decided to collaborate with Topology,” director Jyotish M.G. told Metro.

“Initially, the play might seem just a realistic love triangle but I feel it is one of Ibsen’s best and also the most poetic. Here, we took the content and recreated it into a very stylised surrealistic production, using new dialogues, symbols and choreography,” said Jyotish.

Land and sea, major motifs in the play, are explored through projections. The sailor called The Stranger by Ibsen, for whom Ellida Wangel, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper and now the wife of Doctor Wangel, yearns is here present only as an emotion. Wangel and Ellida (played by D. Reghuthaman and Parvathy), are here just Man and Woman. Through dancers with eye-marked costumes, minimal stage properties — five screens used for projections and acrylic boxes which are used in various ways, sometimes as a bed and sometimes as a coffin, the play explores the universal facets of love and duty, the lack of understanding, the lure of freedom and the unknown.

Passes are available at a number of places: Music World (Park Street), Oxford Bookstore, Dolly’s Tea House, Melody, ICCR, Max Mueller Bhavan, Girish Mancha and the Academy of Fine Arts.