gÖdSe presented by AGNI KOOTTHU (THEATRE OF FIRE) written & directed by Elangovan

This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series 21 ஜூலை 2013

Dear Editor, Thinnai

Grateful if you would help to feature a write-up to publicise GODSE in Thinnai.

GODSE is written and directed by bilingual poet-playwright-director Elangovan.

The information on the play and colour pix (jpeg) are attached.

Thank you.

S Thenmoli


Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire)

written & directed by Elangovan
performed (in English) by Ahamed Ali Khan (Gandhi) & Hemang Yadav (Godse)
Sat 27 & Sun 28 Jul 2013, 8 pm, The Substation Theatre, 45 Armenian Street Ticket Price $20 (Available at The Substation Box Office, Tel: 63377800) Nearest MRT Station: City Hall
MDA Rating: R18 (Mature Content)
Mahatma Gandhi, the messiah of peace is the pioneer and perfector of Satyagraha – the resistance of tyranny through mass civil disobedience. On 30 Jan 1948, at 5.10 pm, Gandhi leaves his room at the Birla House. He walks briskly to the prayer ground. Gandhi greets the waiting crowd. Nathuram Godse folds his hands and says ‘Namaste’. Pushing aside one of the girls walking with Gandhi, he shoots him at pointblank range. Three bullets hit Gandhi. Godse surrenders to the police. He is hanged till dead at Ambala Prison on 15 November 1949.

Godse’s defence was not allowed to be publicized by the Indian government for more than 50 years. According to Justice Gopal Das Khosla, one of Godse’s judges, who did play a role in convicting him: “… the audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men were coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. I have, however, no doubt that had the audience on that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority.”

Both Gandhi and Godse believed in TRUTH. But they took different roads to truth. Is Godse really the mad Hindu fanatic as portrayed by the establishment that sentenced him to death? Both Gandhi and Godse meet in “Trishanku’s heaven”. [Trishanku’s heaven is a mythological world created by sage Viswamithra for mortal king Trishanku who wanted to go to heaven. The immortals refused to accept Trishanku and he was marooned between earth and heaven for eternity.] They debate about their preferred modes of ‘speaking truth to power’ – Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Himsa (Violence).

Godse’s memoryscapes contest the official truths of the Gandhian era to reclaim history. Godse’s gun that he had used to kill Gandhi is on the table with one bullet left. Both are forced to play Russian-roulette as only then they will be liberated from the stalemate position in Trishanku’s heaven. Their cross-examinations of each other exhume the nature of tyranny in our lives, and examine the relevance of peace and love to survive as human beings in this violent world. But a bullet is fired to seal the glaring discrepancies in the mythifications.



ELANGOVAN, bilingual poet, playwright-director, screenwriter, literary editor, transcreator, and pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and Tamil experimental theatre in Singapore, obtained a BA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and a MA (Middlesex University, UK) in Theatre Directing. He has been a freelance-journalist, teacher, television film-cameraman (then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation), Welfare Officer (closed institution for delinquents), Probation Officer and Prison Welfare Officer. He worked as an Arts Administrator with the National Arts Council from 1987 to 2000, Lecturer (Drama) at the Division of Performing Arts, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts from 2001 to 2003, an Associate (Literary) at The Centre for the Arts, National University of Singapore in 2004, a Security Executive, from 2005 to 2006, a Drama Teacher at an international school in 2007, an Administrative Manager in 2008, and Creative Media Consultant from 2009 to 2012. He is the Artistic Director of Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire).

He has published three collections of poetry: Vizhichannalkalin Pinnalirunthu (Behind Windows of Eyes), 1979, Mounavatham (Silent Annihilation), 1984, and Transcreations (a bilingual collection), 1988, and eleven collections of plays, DOGS and Other Plays, 1996, TALAQ (Divorce), 1999,  BUANG SUAY and Other Plays, 2001, FLUSH – recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2002, MINES, 2003,  OODAADI (Medium) – recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2003, O$P$ (OweMoneyPayMoney), 2004, 1915 – recipient of the Singapore Internationale Award, 2005, SMEGMA, 2006, P (Shit), 2007, and I, BOSE, 2009. His plays TALAQ and SMEGMA though available in book form, are still banned for ‘performance’ in Singapore. And his latest play STOMA, which was to be staged from 17 to 19 Jan 2013, was banned on 8 Jan 2013 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore.


His works have been anthologized in The Poetry of Singapore (1985) and The Fiction of Singapore (1990) in the Anthology of ASEAN Literatures series, and ASEANO – An anthology of poems from Southeast Asia (1995), Philippines, Voices of Singapore (1989), Words For The 25th (1990), Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings (1993), Journeys: Words, Home and Nation (1995), Rhythms-A Singaporean Millennial Anthology of Poetry (2000), The S.E.A. Write Anthology of ASEAN Short Stories & Poems (2008), Thailand,  SAMPARK – Indian edition on Singapore literature (2008), Fifty on 50 – poems on Singapore 1959-2009 anthology (2009), Words Poems Singapore and Beyond (2010), and  Man/Born/Free  (2011) – Singapore and South Africa anthology. He has transcreated into English two Tamil poetry collections by upcoming Malaysian poets:  Sarvam Brahmasmi by M Navin (2009) and Call Me Doggie by Renuga (2012), both published by Vallinam, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


He was one of the literary editors of: SINGA – the journal of literature and the arts in Singapore, from 1990 to 1993 and 1997 to 1998, The Fiction of Singapore, Words For The 25th and Voices 4 (1995). He has represented Singapore in the 2nd Asian Poetry Festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1989, 3rd & 4th Southeast Asian Writers’ Conferences in Singapore, 1987 and Philippines, 1990, 3rd World Poetry Reading, Malaysia, 1990, and 1st ASEAN Writers’ Conference / Workshop, Malaysia, 1992, and was a member of the first multilingual literary delegation’s trip to China in Apr 1999 organised by The Centre For The Arts & The Association of Singapore Writers (Chinese). He represented Singapore in the Singapore Writers Festivals in 1988, 1993 and 2005, and the Ubud International Writers Festival, Bali, Indonesia in Oct 2005.


He has also conducted poetry and playwriting workshops and mentored for the Creative Arts Programme (CAP) series from 1991-93/98/99/2004, organised by the Gifted Education Unit of the Ministry of Education and The Centre for The Arts, National University of Singapore. His bilingual poem Hairline was displayed in the MRT: Poems on the Move series by the National Arts Council in Jan 1999.


He wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues for the 13-week teledrama SOOR (High) based on true drug-abuse case-studies in Singapore and it was telecasted on Vasantham Central of the Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) in 2003.  DOGS was staged by the Hearts & Eyes Theatre at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa, Jul 1996. DOGS was given a staged reading in the Typhoon III Festival at the Soho Theatre, London in Jun 2004, a rehearsed reading at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in Oct 2004 and staged in the doublebill ‘Typhoon Live’ at the Oval House Theatre (Off West End), London from 9 to 13 Oct 2007 by the Yellow Earth Theatre – UK’s flagship award-winning East Asian theatre company based in London. Most recently, DOGS was staged by The Blue Room Theatre & Rabid Princess from 4 to 8 Feb 2013 in Perth, Western Australia. P (SHIT) was staged by Teater Ekamatra, a leading Malay theatre group in Singapore, Mar 2006.


Since 1991, he has written, adapted, transcreated and directed numerous plays for Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire), a prominent bilingual exploratory theatre group in Singapore. His major unpublished plays include Becak (Trishaw) Puli (Tiger), Sangre (in Spanish – Blood), Mirugam II (Animal II), Buddha’s Handgrenade, OH!, Alamak!, Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs) and Meow!  His works have been staged in Australia, UK, South Africa, Spain and India. He has also participated as a Dramaturg: MOSAIC Youth Theatre of Detroit, USA, Dec 2000, UNESCO International Theatre Festival, Sinaia, Romania, Jul 2001, and at the FIESTA! International Experimental Theatre Festival, Dec 2001, Caracas, Venezuela.

His works explore the untouched realities in Singapore. He believes that art should conscientise, confront and question accepted societal stereotypes of vision, perception, feeling and judgement to examine reality as a historical and social process.

Elangovan was listed on tamilnation.org as one of the renowned individuals in their list of 100 Tamils of the 20th Century – Tamils who had made significant contributions to the world. He was listed as No.8 on the language and literature category among other prominent Tamil intellectuals.

He received the 1997 SEA (South-East Asia) Write Award, Southeast Asia’s premier literary prize, in Bangkok, Thailand for his bilingual contribution to literature (poetry) and theatre in Singapore.

Elangovan’s books are available at: http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/   &   http://www.earshot.com.sg                 &   http://www.booksactually.com

Contact: elan369govan@yahoo.com.sg

Series Navigationவால்ட் விட்மன் வசனக் கவிதை -33 என்னைப் பற்றிய பாடல் – 26 (Song of Myself) என் ஆன்மா உசிப்பி எழுப்பும்சரித்திர நாவல் போதி மரம் பாகம் 2 – புத்தர் அத்தியாயம் 29


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