Dancing in the forest of Death
Savitri – dancing in the forest of death is Thresh’s latest theatre-dance production re-visioning the ancient epic story of the princess Savitri (from the Book of Forests in the Mahabharata).
Savitri – dancing in the forest of death is the journey of a modern woman encountering her ancient counterpart. Preeti’s vivid merging of ancient and contemporary, symbolic and mundane through a series of heightened episodic moments, brings to life the highly-stylized characters of the ancient epic story of Savitri. Savitri, the epic princess debates Death (Yama) in an effort to win back her dead husband’s life, becoming Death’s companion in the process.
Original text by Teddy Jefferson highlights the dancer’s play with tradition and modernity. Teddy writes, “What happened between Yama and Savitri during their conversation? This is the question at the center of our piece. What emerges is a unique mode of dance that speech is allowed to break through. Dance carries the forms of the past, but the dancer, who must play every figure in this story, cannot suppress her own voice, which is the form of the present. Thus we are allowed to hear Savitri, both a character from a story thousands of years old and a modern woman with the full awareness and independence of all living in the world today.
The story opens up in myriad ways. Least appealing is the reading of her story an instructional fable for instilling the habits of duty, obedience, and quiet suffering into females, and there is not much to redeem it unless you endorse that view of women. Particularly intriguing is the unknowability of what exactly happened during her walk with Yama -Yama whose portrait may be the most sympathetic and nuanced in the story, because he has the most modern trait of all. In the desire to capture Savitri for the modern world there is another option: to see her as a character condemned to play this, a woman born with full independence of spirit and mind and autonomy (a “modern person”) but made to play the role of this paragon of duty and self-sacrifice formed by a society thousands of years earlier.”
The performance of Savitri is developed as a dialogue between Preeti’s traditional roots in classical Indian dance-theatre and her provocative modern language of movement and expression.
Cast and Crew List:
Artistic Direction, Choreography & Performance: Preeti Vasudevan
Dramaturgy: J Ed Araiza
Original Text: Teddy Jefferson
Music Composition: John Hadfield
Costume Design: Deanna Berg
Lighting Design: Deepa Dharmadhikari