Play: Urulum Paraihal/Paraigal (Rocks that Roll), 1992
Written by: S. Ramakrishnan
Directed by: P. Chandan, Sudesihal
Representatives of over 150 countries met at the Earth Summit or the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, Brazil in 1992 and debated sustainable development, discussing the linkages between the natural environment and development. Though India was a signatory to the UN Framework on Climate Change (1992) and Kyoto Protocol (1997), the National Action Plan on Climate Change was formulated only in the year 2008. In India, the Tamil Nadu Action Plan on Climate Change was formulated in the year 2014. However, since the 1990s software development and business process outsourcing emerged as a major resource for Chennai’s economic growth, while the environmental crisis and declining living conditions persisted in the form of drought, flood, and other environmental disasters.
‘Urulum Paraihal’ (Rocks that Roll), a play written in Tamil by S. Ramakrishnan, was directed by P. Chandan and performed by Sudesihal, a theatre group from Madurai. With the assistance of Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), the play was staged at Natya-Samaroh (1992), organized by SNA at Hyderabad.
The play portrays the plight of the workers working under inhuman conditions in the mountains. In the narrative of the play, four workers have lost their livelihood due to the rapid destruction of the ecosystem in the hills, which they had to leave, in hope of finding a new land, a new home. They join a stone quarry and learn about Paraikkaran (the rock) who for several years has been trying to move a huge rock uphill. The workers and the natives protest against the inhuman working conditions and refuse to destroy the hill considering its destruction as self-destruction. According to the director of the play, “destruction of the mountain symbolizes the death of both — nature and humanity.”Urulum Paraihal:Paraigal (Rocks that Roll), 1992
Source: Brochure, ‘South Zone Theatre Festival’, Hyderabad, December 1992, Courtesy – Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi