Evoking Navarasa in You

Jul 01, 2017 | Vol 09 | Issue 04
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Navarasa Sadhana is the systematic and daily practice of evoking the nine basic human emotions by the actors with an aim to strengthening their capacities for creating an aesthetical experience.” says Venu G, an exponent Kutiyattam who has developed a training methodology for artists and dancers and has trained several students from all over the world.

Navarasa Sadhana is the systematic and daily practice of the nine Rasa-s (basic emotions) by the actors with the aim of strengthening their capacities for producing this aesthetical experience. This workshop is the result of years long research by G Venu, a well known performer, choreographer and teacher of Kutiyattam. He has especially designed it as the contemporary actor/dancer-training pedagogy, which is extensively based on the training of actors from the ancient Sanskrit theatre form Kutiyattam, an in depth study for decades into the practice of scholars of three generations belonging to the Kodungallur Royal family from Vidwan Elaya Thamburan to Bhagavathar Kunjunni Thamburan and the understanding of Natyasastra. G Venu has trained several young actors at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, since 2009 and at the Intercultural Theatre Institute and TTRP, Singapore since 2007 and also conducting workshops at Natana Kairali, Irinjalakkuda in Kerala for students from all over the world.

G Venu said “Practicing Navarasa regularly helps to awaken not only the acting skills of the performer but creativity as well. It is possible to augment the skills and concentration of even an average student through the practice of this. Together with breath, concentration, dedication and the different Bhavas flowing through the actor, a flavor arises which is transmitted to the spectator, 'Rasa' is achieved.”

Navarasa describes the nine states of emotional 'tastes' namely Sringara (romance), Adbhuta (astonishment), Vira (energetic), Raudra (anger), Bhayanaka (fear), Karuna (pathos), Hasya (mirth), Bibhatsa (disgust) and Shanta (tranquillity). Rasa is the taste/flavor or feeling. Bhava (emotion) which lead to the respective Rasa are carefully described in Natyasastra.

G Venu explained. The studies of the Natyasatra undertaken at the Abhinaya Kalari (acting school) of the Kodugallur royal family of Kerala from the eighteenth century  and contributions from generations of scholars and practitioners, has been immensely beneficial to the enrichment of the performance dimensions in Kutiyattam and Kathakali. The biggest contribution of this acting school was its recognition that the Navarasa forms the very core for an actor's training. The enactment of the nine rasa is not something one does simply with facial muscles; rather their experiments with these nine Rasa-s at the Abhinaya Kalari became a very serious investigation into acting. One such discovery was that of Rasavayu, the breath of Rasa which pertained to the breath of each Rasa. Here, it was not the superficial enactment of Navarasa, on the other hand, the focus was upon transforming the experience of the emotion within the actor's mind into internal and then external emotion to the maximum possible depth or extent.

“As a result of my research and teaching experience I have developed 'Navarasa Sadhana' in a way that will be useful for those who practice different acting styles. This process is the result of a stylization based on bringing together of every Bhava to certain exercises related to the sensory and the physical realm culled out from everyday life experiences. This Sadhana gave a new energy to the theatre and dance students in the way they conceived characters and helped refining their concentration” he concluded.

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