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E-Pao! Features - Shumang Lila - Styles of presentation

Shumang Lila - Styles of presentation
KshetriMayum Imokanta Singh
Ph.D. SCHOLAR, J.N.U.
New Delhi
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Styles of presentation


The performance space of Shumang lila is very simple and natural without many props. One table and two chairs adorn one side and another side is occupied by orchestra. Two poles are erected at the centre joined at the upper ends by another pole which is used for dangling microphones and tube lights or half lamp or petromax (during earlier days).

But in case of stage lila there is freedom to use any amount of props in order to enhance the effectiveness of the show. The directors are equipped with permutation and combination of various tools. They have avant-garde techniques at their disposal. But the technical range is very limited and is made deliberately so, in case of Shumang lila , in order to preserve the traditional fervour. In this case there is elaborate and intricate use of actor's voice, body and mime.

It is an imaginative world in the sense that the depiction of the performer must match with the imagination of the audience. This means there must be a symbolic communication between the audience and the performers in order to project the desired end. Acting in Shumang lila is particularly difficult for the whole body of the actor has to act as he/she cannot hide anything in the middle of an over looming audience.

Once he/she is in the performance space, he/she is left to himself/herself and is quite vulnerable also since no prompting will save him/her from stammering. The actor is now completely at the mercy of the audience. On the other hand, stage lila being only unidirectional can ease the actors with the techniques assisting them.

For instance, in stage lila the night scene can be created realistically with the able handling of the lighting system whereas in case of Shumang lila the solitude and darkness are painted with the actor's body movements, facial expressions using the art of mime ( assisted by background music in case of Eshei lila ).

When it comes to dialogue delivery Shumang lila tries, as much as possible, to be natural. It is little wanting in case of stage Lila. For instance, in the play 'Macbeth' of Cosmopolitan Dramatic Union, Bunquo speaks facing the audience while talking to Macbeth. It sometimes creates a kind of confusion in the minds of the spectators whom he is talking to. But despite all such technical differences, both the forms make elaborate and tactful use of Manipuri folk forms and martial arts ( Thang ta ) to indigenize the performances.

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