40 years of a Ramayana production

Exposing students to learn other views and realities may argue an openness much of the US – and India – are yet unprepared for


Ritu Jha


Treat everyone justly, even if they are your enemies.

This was the lesson from the Ramayana for Carl Ward, who plays in the 40th-anniversary production of the epic at the graduation ceremony at his school, in Mount Madonna School, Watsonville, California.

Ward, who is going to the California Polytechnic State University next year, told indica that he feels proud to essay Rama most demanding character.

Established in 1978 by Baba Hari Dass, a silent monk, Mount Madonna Center (MMC) for the Creative Arts and Sciences is a residential community and conference center in Watsonville.

This year’s special guest, Ambassador Venkatesh Ashok expressed his appreciation in a press note.

“My wife and I have been greatly impressed by the effort and attention to detail put in by students from across the school. What makes this so remarkable is the general transition, whereby parents who acted in the play in their school days now come to see their children and grandchildren bring alive a story which forms part of a living heritage and tradition, and which has provided comfort and solace to millions of people for thousands of years.”

“To get this part, I put a lot of effort into my auditions,” said Ward, adding a little immodestly for a modern Ram, “I guess the directors just saw me as the best fit for the part.”

He said that Rama is a really fun role, since he’s the hero of the story, and he interacts with so many other characters.

“I like playing Rama in particular because of how much I get to sing. I wouldn’t say there’s anything I dislike, except maybe the wig I have to wear,” he said and added, “I think a big lesson Rama teaches comes from how he treats others.”

“He puts a lot of trust and respect into all his relationships, like when he welcomes help Vibhushan’s help, despite him being Ravana’s brother. He treats everyone fairly, and in turn, everyone he meets loves and respects him,” Ward said.

Clearly, the school has been exposing its students to another culture, helping them learn other views and realities along with their own may argue an openness much of the US – and India – are yet unprepared for.

Sampad Kachuck, who has directed the production for the past 35 years, said, “Mounting a show that has been part of the fabric of MMS for four decades carries with it the importance of tradition as well as the benefits of familiarity.”

“Some students have participated since preschool. Although new songs, script changes and technical aspects are often inserted, the form stays mainly the same. Our purpose is not to merely re-create what has been done in the past, as brilliant as those productions and characterizations may have been. Instead, the true value of the endeavor lies in our willingness to be present, engaged, and, within our dynamic collaboration, open to new discovery.”

“Ramayana! has been central to Mount Madonna School since its founding,” Mary Supriya McDonald, the head of the school, said in a press note. “It’s the culmination of months of work during the academic year and is a year-end celebration for our community embracing diversity and creative self-expression.”

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