Surabhi is a rare institution of family groups that leads nomadic life by performing dramas in villages. Surabhi has a track record of 127years. Most of the Surabhi plays are the compendiums from the Indian epics and mythiologies Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Bhagavatha . There was a time that Surabhi troupes could tremendously survived all over Andhra Pradesh. Sri Venkateswara Natyamandali (Surabhi) which is well known as the Surabhi Babji troupe is one of the survived groups to till date.
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Sri Venkateswara Natyamandali (Surabhi) is an institution of family theatre with morethan 65 family members that has unbroken record of 75 years. It is famous for its Padya Natakam (The classical Telugu verse play) performances adorned with colorful illusionary backgrounds, sets and trick scenes. The interesting thing about this troupe is that all artists/technicians of this troupe are from one family, dedicated their lives to Rangastal (Rangmanch/Stage). There are no age limitations or retirements for the artists of this family.
The troup SVNM-Surabhi is a small world by it self. With in-built democratic principles and administration. The families of artists live on the other side of the theatre structure in small apartments built for them. Women and children have always been integral part of its productions. There is a seperate workshop to produce sets and other necessary objects. The artists do moulding, curtain painting, cut-out designs, and other works by themselves. Surabhi takes resource to a lot of gimmicks, recreating old worl charm on stage. The audience witness to their delight, Lord Vishnu materialising on the stage to bless a devotee and Narada traversing through the air, rendering 'Narayana Keertana.' Gatotkacha pours fire in stage and Krishna dances on Kaliya, the five headed sanke.
Children, as they watch their elders' performance, learn themselves and they are ready to play the role anytime. Almost all artists are technicians too. Women not only play female and male roles too. It would excite the audience that the audience can watch different age groups of artists in the same play that the babies, children, youth, middle aged and old, are all from one family. There are different roles regarding the drama such as making the stage, curtains, stitching, painting, making of the wigs, ornaments, designing costumes, electrical works, lighting works, etc., All these roles are performed by the family.
Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali (Surabhi) involved into new vistas of experimentation with a purpose to put its huge popularity into effective use for addressing social issues in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh.
Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali (Surabhi) is performing at several National and International theatre festivals. Including the shows (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) at Telugu Lalitha Kala Thoranam(Public Gardens, Nampalli, Hyderabad - Andhra Pradesh) from six years.
The principle of success of the exiting plays is the team work. Audience could see only two artists performing on the stage; but behind the screens, there would be the whole family thats working out to make the instant set on the next scene.
© 2011 - Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali