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Language: Kannada | Duration: 100 mins
Project Darling is an experimental Kannada play that delves into the journey of performers searching for their female ancestry in theatre. Along the way, they encounter Khanavali Chenni, an iconic figure known for her double-meaning dialogues and innuendo. As they attempt to find the actress behind Chenni, they uncover stories of other actresses. Will they meet Chenni, and what will they discover? This play explores female sexuality, navigating censorship and culture.
Based on a two-year research project, director Sharanya Ramprakash interviewed female performers of Kannada company theatre, blending research with fiction to address historical gaps. Project Darling combines video testimonials, photo-essays, and soundscapes with song, dance, puppetry, and clowning to reintroduce Kannada Rangabhoomi’s female performers into our cultural history – on our terms.
Supported by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) Research grant, reFrame Genderalities Fellowship and developed at Nirdigantha – an incubation centre for theatre by multilingual actor Prakash Raj.
Written & directed by: Sharanya Ramprakash
Produced by: Nirdigantha, K.Shettihalli, Mandya – 57180
Performers: Matangi Prasan, Shobhana Kumari, Shrunga BV, Shashank Rajashekar and
Dramaturg & Production Manager: Sridhar R Prasad
Co-writer: Kruti R Purappemane
Assistant Director & Sound Design: Aswin Varrier
Lighting Design: Bharavi
Music: Rumi Harish, Priyashri Mani & Pardafash
Songs: Siddhartha & Dadapeer Jyman
Puppets: Rency Philip
Set Execution: Khaju Guttala
With thanks to:
The staff of Nirdigantha
Nirdigantha – the word in itself means transcending horizons in Kannada. This is a theatre incubator space carved out of nature to enable the possibilities of theatre to bloom to its best hues and textures. Nirdigantha is located by the serene banks of the river Lokapavani at K Shettihalli close to Srirangapatna.It is a haven for theatre artists, providing them with a supportive environment, resources, aesthetics, convenient facilities, and a vibrant community to fortify the growth of empowering theatre experiences. It serves as a fertile ground for artistic exploration, innovation, and the creation of compelling and impactful theatrical experiences. This is the dream child of multilingual actor Prakash Raj.
Sharanya Ramprakash is a Bengaluru-based theatre maker. She places her work in the intersection between gender, tradition and language. She writes, acts, directs and collaborates with a range of forms, communities and theatre makers across local, national and international spaces. Her work is research-based, collaborative and exploratory. She is an INLAKS scholar and Member of the Lincoln Centre Director’s Lab, New York. She is the recipient of the Shankar Nag Theatre Award 2022. Her latest work includes the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Award (META) winning play Akshayambara, Nava (supported by IFA Project 560), Artificial Hells (Taiwan International Festivalof Arts) and Malashree Challenge (Goethe Gender Bender Festival).
Matangi Prasan is a movement artist and actor from Bangalore. She is trained in the Natyashaastra vocabulary of Karanas under Guru Smt. Nirupama Rajendra and mentored in abhinaya by Guru Smt. Bragha Bessel, Chennai. Her most recent work is Na Hennaade – I became a woman – a piece exploring the changes a girl experiences post her menstruation using Bharatanatyam. She also has a passion for the Indian Martial Arts and has been training under Mr. Shams Tabrez Jan for the past 5 years.
Shobhana Kumari has been part of LGBTQ+, Dalit rights (rights for marginalized caste groups) and sex worker movements in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka for the past two decades. Her work involves fundraising and facilitating crisis intervention among local queer and Dalit communities. Lately, she has also been working in community theatre projects and using performance art as an advocacy tool. Her monologue titled Am I A Mass Production Machine? Shobhana and Me is an exploration of how female organs and body parts are commonly viewed and discursively presented in society.
Shrunga is an actor working in theatre and films. He is also a puppeteer in training. He has worked with theatre companies in Bangalore, Delhi and Munich.
Shashank Rajashekar is an actor, writer and theatre practitioner. He has been exploring storytelling in its various forms for the past three years during which he has played several roles. He has participated in multiple workshops, was selected for the Indianostrum Open School Mentorship Programme, and has taken part in the Adishakti Masterclass and the Shadow Puppetry Masterclass by Katkatha.
Surabhi Vasisht is a Bengaluru based actor, director, costume wizard, makeup sorceress, and lighting enthusiast. She is the founder of Namkampani and has been involved in theatre for close to two decades. She honed her craft at the Ninasam Theatre Institute, deep diving into professional theatre with a specialization in acting and direction. Guided by Abhishek Majumdar from Indian Ensemble, she has also directed theatre productions such as Sandhaana and Salman Khanana Difficultisu.
Sridhar is currently a research advisor at a Bengaluru-based think tank specializing primarily in gender, governance and accountability. He also has extensive experience in theatre production management, backstage and performance design. Prior to this, he spent over a decade and a half working in the corporate sector in research and technology innovation.
Aswin has a PG Diploma in Acting and Theatre Making from Drama School Mumbai (DSM) and a Bachelors degree in Theatre Studies from Christ University. Over the last 10 years, he has worked in multiple capacities as an actor, corporate trainer, researcher and as part of running multiple arts/theatre festivals.