"All this seems like a drama to you?!!" Aryabhatta and Varahamihira may have screamed,
but for the rest of us, it truly was a novel concept. And like most novel concepts,
this one came from the S N School of Fine Arts, too.
So what is the logic behind the marriage of maths and theater? You see, the whole of the Universe, from the structure of your home and your working schedule to the simple aspect of time, is based on measurement - measurement that has evolved from the movements of the planets to our day-to-day life. And this magic of mathematics is everywhere - even in your pulse. Only, people don't give it due importance, and just leave it to the mathematicians and the scientists. For its importance to be understood by the layman, somebody has to bring this basic cycle of life, the pulse of mathematics, to him in a language that he can comprehend spontaneously.
And so it was that city based theater activist and teacher in the Department of Theater, S N School of Fine Arts, Bhaskar Shewalkar, and Mathematics researcher from Mumbai Dr. P Sarada Devi came up with this play. Its essence is attributed to India, for India had the civilization that gave birth to the Vedas, and that also designed the web for mathematics, the language of numbers and symbols, including determining the concept of 'Zero' or 'Sunya'. That is where the evolution took off, isn't it?
The two directors say that Mathematics is just not a subject but our heritage. And through this matrimony of theater and math, the story of math and its evolution is illustrated through the traditional folk performing art, 'Burrakadha'. The play was based on the utility of logarithms, the creativity of Arithmetics and the parable of Algebra.
The students of the S N School dramatized this one and half hour play. From the Indus Valley Civilization in Mohenjodaro (3000BC to 1750BC) to the 20th century, and from the Vedas, the Vedangas and the ancient Jain Mathematics to Aryabhatta (176AD), Bhaskaracharya (1140AD) and the recent Srinivasa Ramanujam, the production was a through narration.
The director Shiwalkar found the concept a challenge to draw in a theatrical language. "We aimed this as education, and did not stick to the formula of lengthy dialogues or histrionics." (obviously… it had no scope!). But, for these young actors who are not from a math background, memorizing these equations and symbols, and that too in a native language, was quite a challenge. But on the whole, with slide projections, songs, dialogues, actions and even dancing steps, the play was a rare experience.
P. S.: The play has been performed at different venues on different dates.
The first day it was at the Birla Mandir, the second day it was at the St Francis
Degree College For Women, and the third day it was at the University of Hyderabad