Aiya! Maya: Symbols dance in a new Kathmandu play to give the spectators food for thought

Under the yellowish light, five of the characters are seated on stools. In the background, music from tabla and tanpura can be heard. After some time, these characters abruptly get up from their respective seats and begin to perform freely with peculiar moves. Looking at their movement, the audience can feel that they are in search of something within each other.

The dance moves are well synchronized and choreographed. The actors’ symbolic expressions of aggression, agony, and tension while dancing give a charm to their performance.

This is the initial scene from the play Aiya! Maya, devised and directed by Sudam CK, which began on June 21 at Kausi Theatre, Teku.

Experimental play

Aiya! Maya is an experimental play that mainly focuses on body movements and a plethora of symbols rather than dialogues. Photo: Chandra Bahadur Ale

Unlike most of the plays, Aiya! Maya does not focus on one particular issue. The play revolves around the issues like discrimination, mental health, politics, law and orders. This is an experimental play that mainly focuses on body movements and a plethora of symbols rather than dialogues.

This unique experimental drama by CK comes at a time when the Nepali theater is surfing through a dearth of original scripts.

The setting of the play is very simple. Most of the time, the stage looks almost empty, and the entire play runs in a similar setting. This has made the play look more realistic and it has also justified the plot of the play.

Likewise, the drama uses only a few props. The stools in the play have been creatively used for multiple purposes. Sometimes they are just a thing to sit on while they appear as a bridge and a ladder other times. Moreover, there are other props as well that have been used creatively in the play.

Similarly, one of the most powerful aspects of this play is its lighting. Kshitiz on lights has done a commendable job. The light symbolically depicts events like death, insecurities and others. And those light effects have also made the play vibrant. Likewise, amid the show, the foggy effect has also been used. It symbolizes the suffocation that the characters have in their life due to anxiety and various tensions.

Room for improvement

Aiya!  Maya features just six characters and all of them have presented themselves outstandingly with well-synchronised dance, body movements and variants of expressions.  Photo: Chandra Ale.
Aiya! Maya features just six characters and all of them have presented themselves outstandingly with well-synchronised dance, body movements and variants of expressions. Photo: Chandra Ale.

Following the changes in the scene, the play also features different Nepali and Bollywood songs, making the play relevant. All of them are performed live by the artists themselves. They sound very fine. It shows the characters are equally good at singing.

However, in some parts of the music, it feels like there is still room for improvement. In certain sections, the rhythm of vocals and tabla does not harmonise. Both of them flow in an unsynchronised order. Maybe the makers of play have their own logic behind doing so. But, such sounds can distract the audience and break their concentration.

Aiya! Maya features just six characters and all of them–namely, Aakash Nepali, Aayan Khadka, Pabitra Rai, Mukti, Shishir Siwakoti and Sarita Kathayat–have presented themselves outstandingly with well-synchronised dances, body movements and variants of expressions.

Complicated but open meaning

If you want to witness something different and unique in the performing arts, we highly recommend you for Aiya!  Maya.  Photo: Chandra Bahadur Ale
If you want to witness something different and unique in the performing arts, we highly recommend you for Aiya! Maya. Photo: Chandra Bahadur Ale

Since Aiya! Maya is more experimental and symbolic, the spectators could get confused as it is slightly complicated to understand. Even the regular theater-goers might have difficulty grasping the play.

But, having said that, the same elements have also made the play more open to interpretation, letting the viewers explore their own thinking and get amused, which is rarely present in regular Nepali plays.

Besides all the things mentioned above, the play has more to offer to its viewers. If you want to witness something different and unique in the performing arts, we highly recommend you for Aiya! Maya.

Aiya! Maya will run through July 16 at 5:30 pm every day except Mondays and Tuesdays in Kausi Theatre, Teku. There will be an additional show on Saturdays at 2:00 pm.

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