Nimmy Raphel

Nimmy Raphel





Beginning her piece Nidrawatham, her hands a whirl of activity, she brushes her teeth, gargles and flosses with a sincerity that makes you squirm in memory of your far less detailed ministrations.

There’s little to suggest that she’s about to entangle with the complicated stories of Kumbhakarna and Lakshmana, two men at the extremes of the sleep spectrum – one finds his life interrupted by sleep, the other is weary of wakefulness.

Nimmy is a resident artist at Pondicherry’s Adishakti, a theatre laboratory that creates its own performance language by studying and reinterpreting forms like Kutiyattam, Dhrupad singing and Kalarippayattu

Her training is a subtle presence, but manifest in every moment. You can see it in the thigh-killing squat she maintains for long periods. You can hear it in her versatile voice as it brings to life the gruff-toned Kumbhakarna and his shrill secretary, the housefly Mrs Kutty.

The high point of her work lies in how she populates the interstices of Lakshmana and Kumbhakarna’s story from the Ramayana, using it as scaffolding for a rousing tale in which Kumbhakarna is more than just a sleepy demon.



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