Kavita Srinivasan’s Play: Kumari and the Beast

Playwright & Director: Kavita Srinivasan
Group: Sushila Arts Academy, Nepal
Language: English
Duration: 1hr 10mins

The Play
Satya Yuga (era of truth) was an era when gods, demons and humans cohabited the earth. Set in this time is the story of goddess Kumari who came to rule the kingdom of Kathmandu. The legend describes a young goddess Kumari, born to the gods Svet-Kali and Svet-Bhairav in the neighbourhood of Nardevi in ancient Kathmandu. To their alarm, she falls in love with an asura (demon), Chanda. Their tumultuous love story ends tragically, as Kumari ultimately sacrifices her love to in order to fulfil her duty. Her parents in return, make her the ruler of Kathmandu.
Kumari and the Beast is an interpretation of the story told by Maheswor Juju Rajopadhyay in his book of short stories Nepali Adhyaatma Jagat ko Itihas (History of Nepal’s Spiritual World). The story is presented through a fusion of Nepal’s classical Charya dance and contemporary dance-movement, with live music and vintage photography.

Director’s Note
Three things attracted me to this story: First, the story provides a fascinating role model of how a female child can hold one of the highest positions of social and political power, and can remain unmarried of her own will. In a world where power has been known for eons to be held by the senior-most male, the relevance of such a figure is immense.
Second, the story’s central theme of ‘forbidden love’ remains as relevant today as it was ages ago. Society’s condemnation of certain kinds of love based on caste, creed, gender, race etc. continues to trample on the fundamental right to choose.
Last, the sacrifice of the beast is symbolic of the price that society extracts from each of us.

The Director & Playwright
Kavita Srinivasan has focused on stories of culturally iconic figures like Gautama Buddha and Goddess Kumari, reinterpreting and telling their stories in a way that fuses the classic and the contemporary, focusing on the human element, through movement, dance, music, theatre and visual art. She also created Nepal’s first online sitcom P.S. Zindagi (Post Seismic Zindagi) which won local and international recognition. Kavita has done two Masters – in Architecture, and in City Planning – from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA).

The Group
Sushila Arts Academy (SAA) is a theatre dance music and arts institution in Kathmandu, Nepal founded in 2012 with the aim to promote the Arts in Nepal. Since its establishment, it has been providing hundreds of scholarship seats to talented but financially limited or underprivileged Nepali students. The Academy has delivered numerous musical and theatre-dance productions, art exhibitions, shows and various art programs, all aimed at promotion of the arts in Nepal, as well as giving a platform to young, talented Nepali artists to flourish further.

Cast & Credits
Kumari                                                   Kripa Bajracharya
Chanda                                                  Kiran Shrestha
Svet-Bhairav                                          Sudan Munikar
Svet-Kali                                                Vijaya Karki
Representation of Kumari’s feelings      Arpana Lama, Glory Thapa, Sunita Darnal
Representation of Chanda’s feelings     Srijan Bhattarai, Jerox Chaudhari, Nikesh Raj Chaudhary

Charya Dance Choreographer               Sudan Munikar, Kripa Bajracharya
Musicians                                               Chandra Man Shrestha (Drums, Percussion and effects),
Prabesh Maharjan (Percussion and effects),
Saroj Shahi (Guitar and effects),
Rupesh Shakya (Flute, horn and effects)
Original Music and Sound Effects          Dimitris Giannopoulos
Recorded Music                                     Various Sources
Narration                                                 Kavita Srinivasan
Costume Designer                                  Sammriddhi Mittal, Samita Kapali
Beast Make-up                                        Sunita Darnal, materials from Aesthete Studio
Lights                                                      Dinesh Tuladhar
Sound                                                     Tuphan Thapa
Smoke/Projection                                    Kanchan Pandey
Black and White Photographs                 Kiran Chitrakar (Poster), Dominic Sansoni, GTZ,
A. Proksh, AFP, Ian Trower and others
Publicity Stills                                          Avishesh Raj Maskey, Shilu Jain
Behind the Scenes Photographs             Suman Nagarkoti
Production Stills                                       Bijay Tamrakar
Truss / Thermacol / Set                           Binod Pokharel (Stage Mind)
Producer                                                  Sushila Arts Academy
Assistant Director/ Stage Manager          Vijaya Karki

Special Thanks – Jagannath Dhaugoda (Djimbe), Brikchya Band (Khen, Dhimey, Taa, Ghungro), Shree Guru Nitya Baja Khala (Dhime, Taa, Bapucha, Bhusya), Vajra Kala Kunja (Charya music and costume support), Swarnim Maharjan (Flute Melody concept tips), Pawan R. Joshi (Projections)

Story                                                       Maheshwor Juju Rajopadhyay
Playwright & Director                              Kavita Srinivasan

Director, Sushila Arts Academy
KMC-Ward No. 3 Lohasal,
Maharajgunj, Kathmandu- 044600
M: +977 9803791540
E: kavita.srinivasan@gmail.com