Published: 11th September 2017
Make way for Oorali Express: A bus loaded with ten artists from Kerala who travel, perform and act to spread a social message
With the stage being their bus, they can pick any spot and get started with the show. But is it always that easy? Let's ask the artists
Have you ever experienced art gathered from the world and supplemented with theatre and visuals, covering a variety of themes? This group of artists from Kerala is a perfect blend of actors, musicians and writers who raise voice about social realities around us.
Performing in an open space, a bus which they call Oorali Express, the group of 10 artists have travelled and performed dramas in various towns and villages in Kerala before turning to music. Oorali is a character derived from the ancient ritual art-form, Padayani, is a soothsayer who goes around debating the injustices found in society.
“Reaching out to the audience isn't always easy. With a stage like this, we can pick up any place in the street and get started. In 2010 there was a theatre festival in Thrissur so, in that Martin, the team director was working with a Latin-American group and on that play, there was a bus. So from there we got the idea and purchased an old bus and redesigned it into a performing space, said Saji K, lead guitarist of Oorali.
Three in 1: The group modified a to serve as a tour vehicle, a living space and a performance stage all rolled into one
Oorali Express is not only about where the group performs, it talks a lot about how their journey, interactions with the crowd, and stories they tell through their music.
“The idea was that in rural areas there is space constraint, so Oorali Express makes it easier for us as it can be taken anywhere,” he added.
What grabbed our attention are the themes they deal with. But what does Oorali symbolises? “Oorali means coming from the land. And the Oorali Experience is whatever is happening around us, affects us and we express it through art
Saji, Performer at Oorali Express
The band had to temporarily suspend their bus performances due to some permit hassles, which got sorted recently.
“We had to stop our performances for a while due to some permit issues which got resolved a while ago. We will be back on track for our audience,” adds Saji.
The band started a campaign to protest against Vinayakan’s death, a dalit boy who was picked up by two police officials in Thrissur and tortured by them for having long hair, the Oorali members managed to collect about Rs 1.5 lakh, which they donated to Vinayakan’s aggrieved family
All the songs penned by the group are satirical in nature. The option in performing music is a lot more than doing theatre, Saji believes. “We thought that our music connected well with a lot of people. We give a lot of preference to the content we want to tell our audience and how to express that content effectively is our motive,” he said.