*** Winner of the Mahindra excellence in Theatre Awards, New Delhi India 2009, for Best choreography, Lighting and Set Design ***

The Absent Lover is based on Act IV of a drama by the 5th century Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. The main character of The Absent Lover is King Pururuvas whose wife, the heavenly nymph Urvashi, has fled in a fit of jealous rage into a cursed forest grove, where she is transformed into a creeper. Pururuvas, mad with guilt and longing, seeks her in the jungle, beseeching the animals and birds he sees to give him news of his lost love. As a counterpoint to the archetype of the warrior king, a wandering storyteller – a character out of Indian street theatre – challenges and provokes the audience as he gradually reveals the story…

Sanskrit plays tend to center on the upsetting, and subsequent re-establishing, of the divine order of the universe. At the end of the play, everyone is back where they started, restored to their rightful roles. This is initiated by the Sutradhara – the storyteller who is…

Familiarity of a plot is more common in Sanskrit plays for its audiences. The play reaches out to all classes of people, from royalty to the common man, sometimes advising, sometimes admonishing and sometimes consoling. Emotional states within the overall play are given higher priority than a deep individualistic character development. To take the reality and transport it to another world through heightened emotional states (the beauty of his poetry, the imagery he evokes) is seen as reaching a spiritual bliss.

“To find beauty and excitement in what we do, on some level. That’s enough for us all.”

(World Premiere, presented by Prakriti Foundation at the Tree of Life, February 5th, 2008 Chennai India)

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