Grant Period: Over five Months
This grant supports pena player, musician and balladeer, M Mangangsana Meitei of Imphal, to develop a production based on the mythical story of Phou-Oibi, which literally means the lady of the paddy. This legend is peculiar to the rice-growing culture of Manipur and the story relates how Phou-Oibi’s influence reaches across the state and how she brings about good harvests.
Mangangsana plans to create a new performance based on the story of Phou-Oibi. To ‘modernise’ the story, Mangangsana and his group will work within the framework of the traditional performance, yet try to extend themselves beyond what is traditionally done and achieved. For example, a ballad is performed only in the shrines on rare ritual occasions. For this project, however, the group proposes to create a public performance of the legendary story. Their interpretation will bring traditional forms out of the ‘given’ ritual space into a non-ritualistic public space. The performance will be set up in an open public space under a huge tree. The group will create supporting visual materials and install them along with lights to bring out the nuances of the story.
Mangangsana points out that the pena can normally be used only while singing at a high pitch, with slow beats and soft sounds. As a creative director, he finds it difficult to explore the story of Phou-Oibi with just the pena. Therefore, the story will be told in ballad form and performed by orchestrating the pena with the vocal and rhythmic expressions of Moirang Sai, Moirang Parva, Sankirtana, Wari Liba, and Lai Haraoba.
The Phou-Oibi performance is expected to be ready for showing in Imphal by February 2009.