the ‘Iris’ in you
By Vidushi Seneviratne
“We plan to capture the inner most feelings
of every individual in the audience and give them each a spiritual
experience,” says Pabulu Wijegoonewardene, director of a seemingly
novel production. An interesting experimentation of art itself,
Iris promises to make you, quite simply… feel.
adaptation of the short story Iris by German writer Herman Hesse,
the production follows the original storyline, but will be presented
in the form of a dance drama. Hesse is famous for novels such as
Siddartha, but this fame has also made readers overlook his forte,
which is sensitivity. While his characters are most often a result
of his capability to understand the connection between life and
the external world, Hesse’s earlier creations especially,
have a wonderful freshness to them. “This is why we decided
to perform one of his lesser known short stories, from the earlier
part of his career,” says Pabulu, describing the build up
to the production.
what makes this production different? “The creation has been
changed, but the essence is the same,” says Chinthana Dharmadasa,
scriptwriter of Iris, going on to explain that the production has
absolutely no dialogue and is translated through expressions and
movements. Basically a series of visuals, it is neither a drama
nor a dance. “What we want to do is try and reach out to every
member of the audience. The production will have a totally different
impact on each of them, and this is exactly what we are looking
for,” he said. “It’s simply a delicate balance
between “seeing” and “experiencing.” We
refer to it as a dance drama only because the production has to
be categorised as something,” he added smiling.
to Chinthana, dialogue dramas are an extremely common experience
for Sri Lankan theatregoers. Since dialogue has the capability of
restricting the viewer’s feelings and emotions, he or she
most often leaves a production, immersed in the various views and
attitudes of the characters. “This is why we are focussing
on a more abstract medium than dialogue itself,” he said.
The production has no political or social bearing, but will completely
focus on the individualistic experience.
basic plot of Iris revolves around Anselm, a little boy leading
a perfect childhood. Living in a village complete with untouched
wilderness, he is surrounded by the undivided love and attention
of his mother and endless freedom. As a result, the life experienced
by Anselm is almost a merging of dreams and reality. “But
with the passing of time and the entry of ‘knowledge,’
this casual way of life is gradually forgotten,” said Pabulu,
going on to explain that Anselm then ventures into the city in search
of materialistic pleasures.
the hectic city life begins to overwhelm him, he begins to look
for solace from this extreme stress, by regularly visiting clubs
and various other night spots.” It’s at this point that
he suddenly sets eyes on a female whose beauty takes him back to
the memories of his childhood. She is Iris.
step taken towards finding Iris is a step taken from his present
life, into his past. Unable to get anything tangible from her, the
young man channels all the deep emotions and feelings that he is
experiencing because of Iris, into finding his inner self. Tearing
away all life’s outer surfaces, Anselm finally succeeds in
reaching in and touching the “Iris” within him.
production is a first for Neo Trident, a group of young people who
like to describe themselves as “a spiritual entity consisting
of independent individuals appreciating life, while striving to
bring about a positive change in society.” Basically an aesthetic
forum, their medium of communication could at times be a poem, a
painting, a performance….
Neo Trident is mainly made up of about eight members, Iris is a
perfect example of the contributions of numerous people to bring
to life the group’s aspirations. “If, for instance,
an idea is put forward within Neo Trident, I would develop it in
the written form, while Pabulu would interpret it through a dance,
and another member of the group would probably create a piece of
art with it,” said Chinthana, describing how this truly talented
bunch of young people function.
wanted to take this specimen of abstract art to a limitless place.
We have tried to stretch its boundaries; taking it in one direction
up to cinema, and up to a poem in the other,” says the scriptwriter
leaves the viewer with the discretion to interpret its substance
whichever way they want. The highlight of Iris is that reality and
dreams are not differentiated, making it an almost unreal experience.
“If we are able to move our audience and give them each an
individualistic experience, we could be satisfied that our production
has been a success,” said Pabulu.
the cast in the production adds up to about fifty members, most
of them are still schooling. According to Pabulu, everything from
designing the costumes, to creating them and even making the props,
has been done solely by themselves, making the production a complete
team endeavour. “Initially it was just a few random thoughts,
but gradually, with everyone’s individual contributions, the
production suddenly began to take a three dimensional shape,”
added Chinthana, going on to say that though Iris began just as
a ‘playing around with ideas’, it ultimately has been
transformed into a relatively large production.
to truly feel this experimentation of abstract art? Iris goes on
boards on November 6 and 7 at the Bishop’s College Auditorium.