Traditional Theatre Festival
The Southern Regional Centre of IGNCA organized Rangollasa – a traditional theatre festival at Bangalore from December, 12 to 16th 2003. Troupes from all the four Southern states were invited to participate in the festival, which hosted both performances and seminar. It was for the first time that such an event had been organized in South India. Besides the magnitude of the event the unique feature was the follow up of each perorfmance with a seminar where scholars and invitee observers discussed the changes and influences on the theatre forms.
Traditional forms and troupes which represented the different styles were: Badaguthittu Yakshagana by Udupi Yakshagana Kalakendra, Udupi; Tenkuthittu Yakshagana by Yakshagana Kalaranga, Udupi;Moodalapaya by Sri Ranganatha Yakshagana Mandali, Tumkur Dist,; Sannata by Sri Krishna Seva Janapada Natya Sangh, Belgaum; Sri Krishna Parijata by Sri Manjunatha Sri Krishna Parijatha Bailata Company, Mudhol from Karnataka; Chindu Yakshagana by Nizamabad Zilla Chindu Sangam, Hyderabad; and Kuchuipudi Bhagavatamelam by Sri Siddendra Kala Kshetram, Kuchipudi; from Andhra Pradesh; Therukoothu by Sri Purusai Kannappa Thambiran Troupe, Chennai; and Mellattur Bhagavathamela by Melattur Bhagavata Mela Natya Vidya Sangam, Tanjavur from Tamil Nadu and Koodiyattam by Margi, Thiruvananthapuram;Kathakali by Margi, Thiruvananthapuram and Krishnanaattam by Kshetrakalanilayam Krishnanaattam Troupe, Guruvayur from Kerala. Panelists who particpated were: Dr. Basavaraja Malashetty, Dr. dhoopat, Dr. G.S. Hegde, Prof. Heranje Krishana Bhat, Sri Raghava Nambiar, Dr, P. Nagaraj, Dr. Narayana Kurup, Dr. C. Rajendran and Dr. Shivaraju.
The performances and seminars were well attended. On the whole Rangollasa turned out to be an extremely educative and meaningful academic exercise.
Hon’ble Member of Parliament Sri Ananth Kumar inaugurated the festival and renowned dancer Dr. Kanak Rele delivered the keynote address. The Academic Session was inaugurated by Shri Y.K. Muddukrishna, Director, Kannada and Culture, Government of Karanataka. The valedictory address was by well-known Kannada litterateur and former Vice Chancellor of Hampi University, Dr. Chandrashekhar Kambar. The session was presided by Prof. Indra Nath Choudhuri, Academic Director, IGNCA.
The multi-media unit of IGNCA has documented the performances and interviews.
Review of Performances and Deliberation
Koodiyattam is one of the most ancient living theatrical traditions using Sanskrit plays for its production. Koodiyattam finds its expression in ‘Koottambalam’ (auditorium), an inseparable part of temples in Kerala. This art is practiced and propagated by the Chakkiar community. Hence it is also known by the name – Chakkiar Kootu. Both men and women particpate in this tradition and they generally adopt the classics of Kalidasa, Bhasa, Sriharsha, Pallava Mahendra Varms, Kulasekhara, Saktibhadra etc. the stage adoption is elaborate and highly stylized. They follow the stage manuals such as Attaprakaram, Karma Dipika, Hastalakshana Dipika etc. Their costume is semi realistic and the stage mannerisms are highly stylized. Cymbals, idakkai and a unique percussion instrument ‘milavu’ and flute are used in the orchestra. Generally the Nangyars (women) sing while the Nambiyars (male) play the insturments. Nangyars also play the female roles. Language changes from Sanskrit to Prakrit and even to classical Malayalam.
The vachikam of Koodiyattam resembles the Vedic chanting tradition of Kerala. The songs are set to several ancient ragas. The antiquity of Koodiyattam goes to 10th century A.D. It is said that King Kulasekhara Varma structured this art and employed his own Sanskrit plays Tapatisamvaranam and Subhadradhananjayam for the repertory.
Krishnanattam is a product of Bhagavata or Krishna cult of pan Indian feature structured very uniquely as per the ethos of Kerala by the King Manaveda Samudiri of Kozhikode during 16-17 centuries A.D. Scholar, poet and a great devotee Melpattur Narayana Bhattativi’s complete story of Krishna starting from his birth and concluding in Swargaroha is set to eight parts in this theatrical form. The whole production depends, for its lyrics, on Krishnagiti of King Marnaveda. Now this art form is restricted to the Guruvayur temple.