Ramayana 2011

The Aradhana Committee has an exciting new initiative for the 2011 Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. We plan to invite young people in the age group of 10 through 25 to take the great Indian epic Ramayana and tell the story in their own words and interpretations, with characterization of the central figures that makes it relevant to the current environment.

This will be given to leading musicians to convert them into lyrics and set them to music, and well known natyacharyas will be asked to choreograph them. The final program will be presented at the 2011 festival as dance-dramas.

The young people who wrote the story will be given an opportunity to audition and if selected can participate as singers or dancers in this production.

Here are the details:

  1. The epic Ramayana will be divided into six parts - Bala Kandam, Ayodhya Kandam, Aranya Kandam, Kishkintha Kandam, Sundara Kandam and Yuddha Kandam.
  2. Rajaji's book on the Ramayana will be the basic text that will be used. We will also recommend a few other books for reference.
  3. The Aradhana Committee will select 5 to 10 people to form a group. There will be six such groups. Each group will study an assigned portion (Kandam) of the Ramayana and the group will submit the following: (a) The story in the assigned part in their own words (b) the treatment of the central charecters by various writers over time (c) the group's opinion on how the central charecters should be viewed for the Ramayana to make sense in contemporary times especially for people who are growing up in the 21st centuary. This will be the consensus view of the group which will be coordinated by a moderator selected by the group members.
  4. We expect the above effort to take about 45 days with a couple of hours of reading/writing per day. Weekends may require 3 or 4 hours of group discussion etc. Thus the writing part for the entire epic is expected to be over by mid August.
  5. The story as written by each group will be vetted by a scholar for accuracy and consistency and then given to leading musicians to turn it into lyrics and set them to music. These will follow the margam pattern of classical dance. Padma Bhushan Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Chitraveena maestro Sri N. Ravikiran, and vidhushi Smt. Suguna Purushothaman have agreed to write the lyrics and compose the music.
  6. Six different leading dance acharyas/performers have agreed to choreograph each part of the story. These include Smt. Radha, Smt. Savithri Jagannatha Rao and Thirunangai Narthaki Nataraj among others. The dances will represent all well known schools like the Tanjore school, the Kalakshethra school, the Vazhuvoor school, the Kuchupidi style etc.
  7. As a group member, you have the option to offer yourself to be considered either for singing for the dance or be a dancer for that part. If you express an interest, you will be auditioned. If selected, you will be trained by the musicians to sing those compositions or trained by the natyacharya to take part in the dance portion of the production.
  8. Please note that there will be a training fee. While some of the training for the music part could be given over the internet, most of the training for music and dance could take place in India during December–January time period for which the selected participants will have to make their own travel and stay arrangements.
  9. There is a possibility that after considering the participants of the Ramayana project, if needed the Aradhana Committee may add additional singers and dancers from the general public.
  10. The six parts of the Ramayana will be presented in six days during the 2011 Cleveland Festival.
  11. At the beginning of each presentation, a Ramayana scholar will give a 20 minute lecture on the significance of that episode and the group's treatment of the same. Dr. Sudha Seshayyan is one such scholar who has agreed to come to Cleveland for this.
  12. It is proposed to bring out a book (resources permitting) containing the Ramayana story as conceived and written by the participants, the lyrics, the music etc including proper credit for the authors.

Please write to us if you are interested in participating in this exciting project. Following are the details.

Please use only Microsoft Word for the above and use this form. E-mail completed forms to vvs@aradhana.org

We at the Aradhana Committee are very excited about this initiative. We have been planning for it for the last 1 year and we believe that this will be a very enriching experience for everyone. I do hope that you share our enthusiasm.