Sharing the richness of the Tamil language in mini plays

(From far left) Krishna Gnanpathy, Shalaka Ranadive, Susie Penrice Tyrie, Grace Kalaiselvi, Dew M. Chaiyanara and Khairulnizam will direct short plays in Tamil for Pathey Nimidam.
(From far left) Krishna Gnanpathy, Shalaka Ranadive, Susie Penrice Tyrie, Grace Kalaiselvi, Dew M. Chaiyanara and Khairulnizam will direct short plays in Tamil for Pathey Nimidam.PHOTO: RAVINDRAN DRAMA GROUP

Ravindran Drama Group is reaching out to non-Tamil speakers through Pathey Nimidam.

This showcase of eight mini plays created by different drama ensembles runs from Sept 21 to 23 at the Aliwal Arts Centre. All will be performed in Tamil with English surtitles to reach a wider audience.

It is the fifth time that the group is presenting a collection of 10- minute plays. The first instalment in 2012 was created as a competition and featured five plays.

Pathey Nimidam is now a platform to nurture new scripts for Tamil theatre and promote the Tamil language.

Not all scripts commissioned for the showcase will be written in Tamil. The Select Centre, a not-forprofit arts organisation which facilitates intercultural practice, is helping with translation.

Festival director Hemang Nandabalan Yadav, 38, says Ravindran Drama Group wants non-native speakers to appreciate the richness of the Tamil language.

"If we want this language to be a living one, we've got to get people enjoying it," he adds.

  • BOOK IT / PATHEY NIMIDAM

  • WHERE: Aliwal Arts Centre, 28 Aliwal Street

    WHEN: Sept 21 to 23, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $30 from www.patheynimidam.com

Including Ravindran Drama Group, eight arts ensembles have contributed plays this year. The others are The Kaizen M.D., The Writing Doctor, Ver Theatre, WeCanDoIt, Underground Theatre, A.D.I. Concept and Yadav's own Wisdom of Monkeys Productions.

Non-native speakers taking key roles include Britain-born Susie Penrice Tyrie of The Writing Doctor.

The 54-year-old is directing a piece for Pathey Nimidam for the fourth time. This year's play is a translation of Change Shift 2, one of a series about a taxi driver, written by Australia-born Jane Cafarella.

Tyrie is known for English-language works with The Stage Club, Hot Chocolate Theatre and new co-op theatre company Wag The Dog. She says working with Tamil "opens the eyes and ears" to the rhythm of a new culture.

"I think this festival is a very lovely thing to do. The fact that non-native speakers are doing it shows that theatre can transcend boundaries."

For Ver Theatre's founder Grace Kalaiselvi, Pathey Nimidam is a return to her theatre roots.

The 40-year-old, who is better known for her non-Tamil works such as her recurring role in the Channel 5 drama Tanglin, began her theatre career with Ravindran Drama Group 19 years ago.

Her 10-minute piece for Pathey Nimidam takes its title from the Tamil film song Ulagam Pora Pohke Paary (See How The World Goes).

She is keen to see how the audience reacts to her one-woman drama about people on the fringes of society, such as those who beg by selling keychains.

"I feel the need to step out of my comfort zone and see what other groups are doing," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'Sharing the richness of the Tamil language in mini plays'. Print Edition | Subscribe