What is organic theatre? It’s a form of theatre that promotes the culture and tradition of organic farming through theatre. It is conceptualised by SN Sudheer, a theatre activist and former television producer. He created a character based on folklore, whom he proudly calls Kadampan Moothan, the voice of this artform. According to legend, Kadampan Moothan is a supernatural entity that protects and encourages farmers to be persistent even during hardships.
One of the reasons why SN Sudheer developed organic theatre is because he got jaded by people’s disrespect towards farming. Or rather, he was surprised by their detachment from the traditional ties of farming that honours the power of the Earth. Everyone complains about pesticides and harmful fertilisers used on the food they eat. The ecological state of our being is under the burden of man-made intervention, and it is harming the planet. But, no one really does anything about it. Sudheer, however, wanted to change this thinking and impart knowledge about the preservation of our soil and resources.
Through Kadampan Moothan, the God of Cultivation, he shared the art of organic farming to help people re-connect with the soil around them. Moothan wears a costume made out of reed mats, coir and strands of dried grass, representing Earth’s truest potential. The character stomps on the ground to awaken the spirits that have been lying dormant for decades. He sings the song of sowing, reaping and harvesting using one’s own hands. Speaking to The Hindu, Sudheer shared, “I like to define it as agri plus culture, a seamless fusion of agrarian activities that went hand in hand with theatre, music and other cultural activities.”
SN Sudheer, along with others who believed in his cause, formed Wide Inspiration, Wide Aspiration (WIWA) in 2010, which was registered in 2014. The first organic theatre took place in 2016 at Kathippara in Vellarada grama panchayat (40 km from Thiruvananthapuram). While the workshop was successful, it didn’t yield harvest due to the floods. However, they persisted and with the help of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and panchayat officials, the village got together to farm organically.
Sudheer and his team are travelling from village to village to revive organic farming via organic theatre. He believes that Kadampan Moothan can bring change and inspire people to look at the soil they stand on differently. Through culture, art, and tradition, Sudheer has managed to pave the way for all of us to reconnect with nature. That’s the beauty of organic theatre.