‘Akshayambara’ is an experimental Kannada play that uses both modern theatrical tools and the dance drama form of Yakshagana to create a contemporary narrative that raises questions on female representation and male ownership. The play was developed through the INLAKS Scholarship ’14, supported by the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) and premiered at the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival ’15. It was recently nominated in eight categories at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) ’16 where it won Best Original Script & Best Actor (Male).
A male artist in streevesha plays Draupadi while in a tradition defying move, a woman is cast as the Pradhana purushavesha of Kaurava. What happens to the interpretation of gender when a man plays the streevesha and the purushavesha is played by a woman? Who is the real woman and who is the real man? When tradition can accept a man as a streevesha can that same tradition accept a woman as a purushavesha?
The performance is with English Subtitles.