A unique production adapted from a new Hindi translation commissioned by the Embassy of Peru of the oldest piece of Quechua literature in the world.
In December 2019, Kaivalya Plays and the Embassy of Perú envisioned staging the masterpiece of Quechua literature in India. In 2021, Peru celebrated 200 years of independence and wished to mark the event in India with a production of Ollantay on as grand a scale as the breadth of the Incan empire. The tale of brave warrior Ollantay of common birth, who is banished for falling in love with the Emperor’s daughter, carries the universal message of an empire bowing to the strength of love. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a dent in their plans to stage for a whole year. By the second year of the pandemic, Kaivalya Plays, an Indian performing arts and production organization based in New Delhi, began researching how to stage a play set in the highland palaces of Perú as a digital production. At the same time, a team of Indian translators had just concluded a Hindi script of the classic script. Director Tariq Ahmed says "This is a script written for an audience hundreds of years ago, in a very different culture. Our challenge was to adapt it and yet keep the essence of the culture it belongs to. We gave the actors freedom to take on the emotions according to their perception while keeping them refrained within the essence of the words at the same time." Their small team began working with the script to research costume design and set design ideas. Very quickly they realized that they could attempt to create a version where all the performers and technicians would work from home.
The initial production research was conducted by a team of interns from Christ University, Bangalore who were doing a summer project with Kaivalya Plays. They researched costume design ideas that could be built with materials at home. By focusing on the symbols of the Incan empire and their devotion to wildlife, the team was able to approximate the colours and designs of the time period using household stationery. You can read more about it HERE.
The next step was to find suitable locations to approximate the walls, palaces and hills of the Incan empire. With the help of the Embassy of Perú and some investigative work from the entire team, Kaivalya Plays found digital backdrops and adapted cinematic techniques, with performers shooting themselves individually at home yet appearing to occupy the same space. You can read more about it HERE.
From this point on, co-directors Tariq Ahmad and Raghav Seth began working with performers, managing their schedules, delivering props and green screens to their homes and working with patchy internet connections, poor sound quality and technical difficulties to craft a digital performance. Raghav says "We devised this play as a production shot on Zoom, rather than a Zoom production itself. This would imply blocking and plotting the action of the production as if it were being done on stage, with dedicated entries and exits." Finally, after shooting and editing a version of the play with all actors and technicians working from home, a draft version of the film was produced.
Taking advantage of the low case count, the team received permission from the Instituto Cervantes in Connaught Place, New Delhi to shoot in their auditorium for one day with the entire cast and crew. With a cast of fully vaccinated performers, the team re-shot the play in October 2021. Technical Director Gaurav Singh adds "Whilst shooting on Zoom was marred by unstable internet and low-quality footage, it worked great as a proof-of-concept for using green screens and DIY production setups at home. Armed with these learnings, we shot the final draft together in-person and undertook an extensive post-production process curating the footage with Incan-inspired media."
Artistic Director Varoon P. Anand, who has led the group's work in Spanish language arts, says "Kaivalya Plays has fostered a relationship in the Spanish speaking arts world since their 2013 English language adaptation of Jordi Galceran's The Gronholm Method. For that production, the team translated the script from Spanish to English and held open auditions". Since then Kaivalya Plays has worked with Instituto Cervantes, the embassies of Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, Spain and built a long collaboration with the Embassy of Argentina focused on the work of author Jorge Luis Borges. Their adaptation of Borges' Funes the Memorious received a grant to tour nationally in 2020, which awaits the end of the pandemic. During the first year of the pandemic, Kaivalya Plays' adapted Salvadorean author Alvaro Menen Desleal's Luz Negra into a Spanish language digital production. Now, finally after almost a year of planning and six months of production work, ‘Ollantay’ will debut as a digital production on the Kaivalya Plays website.
PRESS NIGHT & WATCH PARTY
On Sunday, February 13th at 5pm IST Kaivalya Plays will host a press conference with cast and crew, to talk about the creation of Ollantay, followed by a watch party of the play.
Register for the preview event below or use the link (bit.ly/ollantaypreview)
DATES & TICKETS
You can read more and book your tickets at kaivalyaplays.org/ollantay
Ollantay will have a digital premiere on February 13th 2021. Available for audiences around the world.
MEDIA & IMAGES
All images can be found here – Link
CAST & CREW
Directed and Designed by Tariq Ahmad and Raghav Seth
Hindi Translation by Vikash Kumar Singh and Rishu Sharma
Revised Translation by Shayama Prasad Ganguly
Production & Photography Direction by Varoon P. Anand
Technical Direction by Gaurav Singh
Lighting by Varoon P. Anand, Chanchal and Krishna Kohli
Performances by Abhinav Kaushal, Bhavya Rampal, Deepriya Nagi, Gurpreet Singh, Nikie Bareja, Raghav Seth, Tariq Ahmed, Vidur Sehgal, Vanshika Verma
Production & Re