THE LITTLE MERMAID
Six actors perform an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid in collaboration with the Danish Youth Goodwill Ambassadors' outreach programme in India.
YGA website (http://ygadenmark.org/)
'Study in Denmark - India' Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/StudyInDenmarkIndia)
The playwright & director
Sunandha Ragunathan is a theatre professional who has been working with different Chennai groups for over 8 years, some of whom include Madras Players, Theatre Nisha, Justus Repertory and CreaShakthi. She has enjoyed acting in productions ranging from comedy and contemporary British plays to Indian classical. Some of her memorable roles are diverse - an autistic man (Simon Stephens’ ‘Motortown’), a troubled maid (Jean Genet’s ‘The Maids’) and a jester inspired by King Lear’s Fool (Girish Karnad’s ‘The Fire and the Rain’). Over the years, to meet the physical idea of some of her roles, Sunandha has trained herself in classical dance, kalaripayattu and silambam.
An English postgraduate from the University of Westminster, Sunandha also enjoys writing scripts for the stage. Her plays usually focus on universal themes of our need for acceptance, our refusal to accept change and how much dreams mean to us. Some of her full-length and 10 minute plays have been performed by Theatre Nisha, The Debauch Company, Strayfactory and various schools.
Recently she launched her own theatre outfit ‘The Debauch Company’. ‘Romancing Guy – Maupassant in India’, their first show staged adaptations of four Guy De Maupassant short stories. The focus of The Debauch Company will be on familiarizing local audiences with foreign authors in an Indian milieu. Physical theatre and absurd theatre are also areas that interest members of The Debauch Company.
"When I read The Little Mermaid I was most disappointed by the ending; so when I was adapting it, I decided to kill off the 'daughters of the air' angle and instead focused more on the idea of puppy love and it turning into a more mature, self-sacrificing love. So the mermaid indeed dies at the end but it is because she chooses to end her life rather than kill someone to revert to her old self.
There are 6 actors onstage and all of them play the "little" mermaid at various points of the story so it becomes a collaborative piece rather than a "heroine and supporting cast" piece. Also, the soundscape engineered so brilliantly by my partner Sandeep John allows each actor onstage to create sounds of the ocean and evoke pathos, revulsion, longing, yearning, and joy that the mermaid faces at different points in the story.
Parallel to the little mermaid's story, we also have a narrative of creatures from the jungle to draw contrasts and to mirror what the mermaid is going through. The search for new identities and the struggle to fit in are universal themes so I wanted it shining through the entire performance.With music, physicality and dialogue adapted from Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid as performed by Theatre Nisha will be nothing like Disney's version, but also try to beam out a message of hope, rebirth and rewards for sacrifice."