Researching a world theatre tradition

For the last 12 years I have been researching Kathakali, and as time goes on I see more and more ways to find out about the history of a tradition. Also, as time goes on I come across more and more conflicting pieces of information. It is therefore essential to cross reference all your information, find a range of sources to refer to and also check, double check and triple check you understand what you are reading before you choose ...

Being Krishna

This blog will document the four days that I spent getting ready for my Arangettam performance, in the role of Krishna to open the Diwali celebrations on Tuesday 10 November at the Gopalakrishna temple, Amaravathy, Fort Cochin, Kerala. This will give you an insight to what a Kathakali performer needs to learn and apply in performance. Day 1 Standing as Krishna. Hands are in Kathakam mudra and face is using the Rasa Shrimgaaram. This day I focused on the footwork for the Arangettam. ...

Audience Participation

This winter break I have been back in the UK, and have had the pleasure of seeing pantomime, being involved in performance art and attending workshops on physical theatre. While I was in the UK I thought at lot about how theatre is changing for the audience. This blog will focus on some experiences I have had recently that have shifted the goal posts of what audiences can now expect, and how they are involved and inspired. In Pantomine it is ...

Flooding the Stage

‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here.’ Ferdinand, ‘The Tempest’, Shakespeare. Years ago I went to the Edinburgh festival and saw Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ performed on trapeze, with the movement of the mariners all depicted in mid air above our heads. The island was on the stage below. Another production had the whole world of the royalty confined to a small ship that was floating in a globe-shaped fish bowl. The ship that carried Alonso, Gonzalo and the ...

Kathakali Dance Theatre Characters & Make-up

The contemporary art form from Kerala dates back to 17th Century. Kathakali literally means ‘story play’. Originally 108 stories were performed but there are 30 now only regularly performed. They are based on the Hindu Epics ‘The Ramayana’, ‘The Mahabharata’ and the ‘Purana’. The script, ATTAKATHA, or poetic text of Kathakali performance is in MANIPRAVALAM,  a Sanskritised form of Malayalam, the language of Kerala. The script is vocalised by singers and the performers ‘narrate’ the drama through precise movements and hand ...