Collage of photographs from palakkad, climate change data and laban movement analysis study diagrams.

*Image description: abstract painting showcasing differently metamorphosed earthy and rock like human figures in earth’s natural landscape.

Scenography Studies

The work for ‘In the Blue Houses Dream the Mountains’ was informed by more extended research into scenography and ecology. Studies of traditional art forms including classical and folk, contemporary theater work, and place-based studies in Kerala were conducted to support this work. Research is also a hand-in-hand examination of scenography as a subject. The research looked into Kutiyattam, Theyyam, ‘The Legends of Khasak’ (an eco-theatrical work by Deepan Sivaraman), and place-based narratives from Palakkad. Here are some excerpts from our research.

*Image description: Illustrative painting that shows the interaction of the body of Theyyam with different types of landscapes that it travels during the performance.

Scenographically, the whole village is the stage for Maari Theyyam with the performance moving through houses, shrubs, near ponds, open plains, seashore, and paddy fields. These spatial settings make the act meaningful by more of a metaphorical symbiotic relationship. So perhaps art forms like these, which involve such natural environmental settings urge people to preserve their ecologies since art is integrated as a culture or a ritual into them.

*Image description: Sketches interpreting the spatial setting for theatrical work of ‘The Legends of Khasak’

The permeable threshold for the play does not only exist spatially but also as an experience that redefines the actor-spectator relationship in contrast to a play in a proscenium theater. Movement and sound also expand beyond the audience's visual perspective, creating the illusion that it is a larger place that the audience has inhabited. Elements like smell, taste, and touch also permeate beyond the fourth wall making a work multi-sensorial experience.

*Image description: A drawing that illustrates the activation of the frame of the real space by the body in Kutiyattam.

In Kutiyattam, the space-time fabric profoundly contributes to the scenography structure. Its peculiar experience lies both in the performative delivery in real-time as well as in the curation of time with parallel narratives of different times rather than a linear one. Its design is a slow transcendental to the psychological imaginative space that opens up very individualistic scenography for the audience.

*Image description: Photograph of a part of the Chingan Chira Temple, Palakkad with toy cradles, toy houses, and sacred threads tied on the roots of the banyan trees

The place and its practices also signify a spiritual relationship in an ecosystem, that human civilizations have always followed. It is a relationship of interdependence, gratitude, and exchange. The spiritual and religious performances integrated into the life of people and the landscapes they live in, build ways of protecting or preserving the natural environment.

A set of publications on the research and exploration for this project is forthcoming. For more information please contact us directly.

© BRMproject