JustUs Repertory was immensely proud and honoured to felicitate eminent Chennai-based Tamil playwrights Na Muthuswamy and Indira Parthasarathy before the evening shows on 24 and 25 June 2017 at JUST FEST, the two day theatre festival celebrating the repertory's work in theatre for over ten years.
Both playwrights have contributed not only to the growth of Tamil drama but to Indian theatre, to the national stage.
Na Muthuswamy founded and served as the art director of Koothu-p-pattarai, where he developed a unique and all-round form of theatre, based on koothu traditions. He has almost singlehandedly crafted an avante garde style in Tamil theatre—rooted in the local, but universal in its sweep. His Kalam Kalamaga is arguably the first modern play in Tamil, and his Narkalikarargal remains a stunning example of his highly original vision. Muthuswamy has been honoured with many awards, the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Padma Shri among them. His pioneering work remains an inspiration to all of us who see theatre not only as a life-changing experience, but life itself.
Tamil readers know Indira Parthasarathy more as a novelist and short story writer than as a playwright. His plays, Mazhai, Aurangzeb and Nandan Kathai among them, were translated into other Indian languages and performed extensively by the National School of Drama in Delhi and other north Indian groups before they were staged in Tamil. Parthasarathy has won many awards, and is the only writer to have been honoured with the Gnanpeeth Award and the Saraswati Samman. In 2010, JustUs Repertory produced Land of the Free, an adaptation of Indira Parthasarathy’s novel Sutantirabhumi, in collaboration with The Madras Players.
To show its heartfelt appreciation of these two remarkable writers, JustUs Repertory decided to give the playwrights something they would remember and value, and something out of the way that they would enjoy.
So we asked the young Carnatic vocalist Subhiksha Rangarajan, who is also a fine visual artist, to come up with portraits of the two playwrights, suggesting the depth and creativity of their minds. What she did has turned out to be striking and evocative.
We are proud to add that Subhiksha has a JustUs connection: she sang for our play Mathemagician in 2009.
Bearing in mind that both playwrights have often displayed an irreverent and out of the way approach, we invited JustUs friend Satyanarayanan Govind (Chari), to do his version of the two men. His brilliant cartoons captured the irrepressible spirit of both.
On the opening day of the two-day JUST FEST, the two paintings and shawl were offered to Na Muthuswamy by Sivasankari the renowned writer, Priyadarsini Govind, Bharatanatyam artist and Director, Kalakshetra, and JustUs Repertory's founder-member V Ramnarayan. [It may be remembered here that Priyadarsini Govind played the role of the dancer Sivakami, in JustUs Repertory’s play Flame of the Forest in 2007].
As Indira Parthasarathy was unable climb two flights of stairs to the venue at Alliance Francaise of Madras, he was felicitated a few days before the event in his home, with Sri R Thiagarajan, Chairman, Shriram Group, doing the honours as chief guest, Writers Thiruppur Krishnan and V Ramnarayan spoke a few words about the playwright in an intimate gathering which included Seetha Ravi, Charukesi, Era Murukan (writers), publisher Badri Seshadri, designer/ printer AS Diwakar, and Sukanya Sankar and S Janaki, both from Sruti the performing arts monthly.
The just-published Dark Horse and Other Plays, an anthology of six plays by Gowri Ramnarayan, was presented to the playwrights and to the special guests who graced the occasion.