Sankar Venkateswaran’s Tage der Dunkelheit

It is the last day of the decisive battle of the Mahabharata. As storms sweep over the battlefield, it rains rocks, vultures circle in the sky and rivers flow in the wrong direction. These are ominous portents for the last struggle for succession to the throne of Kuru. In the decisive battle, it is finally the true king that is victorious. But at what price and in whose name is the war being fought here?

Tage der Dunkelheit

Direction – Sankar Venkateswaran
Stage Design – Ran Chai Bar-zvi
Music – Joe Masi

Featuring – Pascal Fligg, Jonathan Müller, Leon Pfannenmüller, Mehmet Sözer, Magdalena Wiedenhofer, Timocin Ziegler

The production premiered in June 2016 at the Münchner Volkstheater. The title translates literally as ‘Days of Darkness’.

 

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Reviews

Part-translated and paraphrased from the German. Links to full articles have been provided.

Venkateswaran has brought in a language on the stage which reveals the influence of ritualized theater forms such as the Japanese Noh and the Peking Opera in this one-act play by the playwright Bhasa, writes Sabine Leucht in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (June 21, 2016). In the beginning, the evening develops a strange seduction, but later the production loses its simple clarity and falls somewhat excessively into naturalistic modes of performance, but it catches itself again before winding to a surprisingly abrupt end after a running time of only 60 minutes.

Venkateswaran and his six actors have worked very cleverly with the Pranayama, i.e. with the breathing exercises of yoga, says Michael Schleicher in the Münchner Merkur (June 22, 2016). The consciousness being breathed on the stage is reflected in the movements of the performers, and from this mindfulness the figures draw strength and energy, and rise to the last battle. There is an impressively slow prologue, and also a subsequent mourning that loses its tension and intensity in only a few moments. The ancient Indian playwright Bhasa, with his criticism of gods and divinity, is also surprisingly contemporary.

Cornelia Fiedler In nachtkritik.de writes of the play’s unusual verbal immediacy — that lies somewhere between urgency and pathos — which can be difficult to digest for those viewing the piece through the lens of postmodern irony. The evening is mainly impressive due to the seriousness with which Venkateswaran negotiates the fundamental questions of Mahabharata.

After this outing, Venkateswaran will once again return to the Munich Volkstheater for the opus, Mahabharata (AT), which will premiere on 28 May, 2017 in Munich.

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