A world without dialogues

Ambika Shaligram
Sunday, 5 November 2017

No, the show is always the same. But the clowns keep track of the audience’s reaction and this is woven in some spontaneous reactions or small situations in the play. But the plot and dramatic structure remains the same. That is a motivation for us to continue presenting the show

Wordless wonder

Chatting up Mariana Silva about Mandragora Circus which will be staged in the city on Saturday

Mandragora Circus, conceptualised by Juan Cruz Bracamonte, is a wordless theatre performance. It is a story of comedy and love told by two clowns (played by Bracamonte and Mariana Silva). Circus stunts, music and unconventional instruments weave the acts of this performance together, allowing the audience to imagine situations, conflicts and solutions. Silva explains what is in store for the Pune audience. Excerpts from an email chat...

You conceptualised Mandragora Circo/Mandragora Circus in 2003. How do you interpret the wordless performance? Does your thought process match with that of the audience?
Yes, the premiere of the play, Mandragora Circus, was held in 2003 in the city of Trelew, Argentina. The two characters in this wordless performance are clowns and physical actors, we use body actions and gestures to communicate what is happening, what we are feeling.
The audiences, never mind their age or cultural background, get connected with the characters, following every action and moment, understanding all that is happening on stage. Initially, many of the scenes were developed responding to the audience’s reactions. Now, after 14 years of continuous presentations in 40 countries across four continents, performing to audiences of different cultures, languages, etc we have discovered that the reaction and emotions are the same — whether we were performing in Mexico, Ethiopia, Romania, France, Canada or Palestine.

Do you make changes to the situations in the circus?
No, the show is always the same. But the clowns keep track of the audience’s reaction and this is woven in some spontaneous reactions or small situations in the play. But the plot and dramatic structure remains the same. That is a motivation for us to continue presenting the show.

Can you tell us about the dos and don’ts of a mime performance? How can you hold the audience’s attention?
Hearing the audiences is very important, even during the silence, so that we don’t lose the connection with them. As actors, we are deeply connected with our characters and that make people believe in what they are seeing. The show goes through many different situations - comedy, melancholy, romance and a lot of surprises that keep the audiences on their toes.

Does Argentina have a history of mime performances?
In Argentina, we have a mime tradition, but not so big as it is in India. In our case, the Mandragora Circus doesn’t stem from the tradition of mime. It is based on the clowns and their physical action, especially not making use of verbal communication.

Can you tell us a little about the stunts that you and your co-actor will be doing in the show?
The show includes circus acts like acrobatics, juggling, aerial acrobatics in the silk. The music is presented with live instruments, some of which are unconventional. We weave the stunts as a part of the story; thus making the circus a poetry.


The person behind the persona

In conversation with Rustam Akhmedshin, who talks about Internationales Berliner Drama Theatre’s It’s Me, Edith Piaf, that will be staged on Sunday

It’s me, Edith Piaf, is a subtle, touching and intimate retrospective of the times that have influenced the life and songs of the French singer and actress. The original script has been written by Nina Mazur and includes nuggets from Piaf’s life — when she sang in the streets on the outskirts of Paris and her slow rise to international stardom. With her amazing voice, the protagonist of the performance brings back Piaf, singing ballads like La Vie en Rose, Milord, Padam Padam, Mon Dieu or the anthemic Rien de Rien.

The show promises to take the spectators into the world of emotions and thoughts of the French singer. The translator of the play, Rustam Akhmedshin, shares more details...

When did you read/watch Nina Mazur’s original performance?
I knew Nina Mazur personally, and I got an opportunity to read several of her Monodrama plays and one of them was Piaf.

What inspired you to translate the script?
This production, from the very beginning, was planned to be staged in both languages — German and Russian. So as soon as we started to work on the adoption of the text, I started to translate part for part.

When you were translating, did you try to ensure that the script sounded like it was written originally in German?
We were changing so many things in this story, right till the opening night, so I had to memorise more and more new things and also translate them into German.

Can you tell us about the songs? Have they been translated in German as well?
We never translated songs into German, because I sing them in French.

How did the German audience react to the production?
The German audience loves this performance, that’s why it has been running for two years. It’s a long lasting production in Berlin.

ST Reader Service
The Mandragora Circus/Mandragora Circo will be staged on Saturday, November 4; It’s Me, Edith Piaf will be staged on Sunday, November 5. Both the shows will be staged at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Hirabaug, Tilak Road, between 7 and 9 pm



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