THE WORK OF MOURNING II invites an Oppari performer to discuss the tradition of mourning on stage. Opparis are professional mourners in Tamil Nadu (Southern India). These mourners belong to the living tradition of Oppari, practised mostly by women who perform bereavement at a person's death. Opparis are rich in wordplay, and improvise lyrics, melodies, and the art of ‘crying’, often for something in return (offerings, gifts, money). However, the tradition is dying out in contemporary India. Jayalakshmi, an Oppari performer, introduces the tradition and perform songs of mourning. She is in conversation with Arivazhagan, a young Tamil researcher who also belongs to a family of mourners. This is a live interview-performance event, where audience wears wireless headphones to experience the performance with live language translations, which seeks to cautiously interpret the rich imagery and metaphors of the tradition.
Performers : Jayalakshmi Gopalan & Arivazhagan Arumugam
Concept & Direction : Amitesh Grover (with Arnika Ahldag)
Language Interpreter (Tamil-English) : Aprameya Manthena
Sound Design : Hemant Sreekumar
(Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Switzerland, 2016)