Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kulasekhara Theatre Festival - Living Traditions and Natyasastra

India, as all of us know, has a long history of theatre. Descriptions in Vedas, epics and Jataka stories show the popular mass-base of performance at that time. It was Bharata who regulated the various traditions prescribing a grammar for performance. Ever since, Natyasastra, his encyclopaedic treatise, serves as the source of inspiration for theatrical activities all over the country.

This influence became more pronounced in the colonial days when India was struggling to find out an identity of her own. Many indigenous forms went through a process of classicisation which conferred social status on them. Link with Natyasastra became the symbol of their credibility. This classicisation rejuvenated forms like Kathakali,Mohiniyattam,Bharatanatyam, Odissi etc. Popular theatre also came to be studied more carefully and were incorporated to the corpus of the so called mainstream manifestations. Theatre today, thus, is a continuum of classical-folk traditions.

Kerala’s Contributions

Kerala has maintained long association with Natyasastra. The Chakkian referred to in Silapadikaram (5,c.C E)belonged to Kerala and he performed the Ardhanareeswara dance before the king in Kotungalloor, the later capital of the cheras. The chera king Kulasekhara(10 c.) applied the theory of dhvani to theatre and introduced a new method for the presentation of Sanskrit plays. It is kept recorded in Vyangyavyakhya. This performance text with its stress on imaginative acting (manodharmabhinaya)and transformation of roles(pakarnnattam)paved the way for the evolution of classical theatre (Kutiyattam,Krishnanattam,Kathkali and Mohiniyattam)in Kerala. In the 19th century Kotunglloor became a great centre of learning and Natyasastra formed one of its major deciplines. The aesthetics of Kathakali today, owes much to the training Pattikkamtoti Ravunni Menon received from this Gurukulam. Mani Madhava Chakyar and Ammannor Madhava Chakyar were benefitted by their studies at Kotungalloor.Use of the much acclaimed svaravayu by the latter is a special contribution of the Natyasastra tradition of Kerala. This heritage enabled Kerala to preserve the Bhasa plays, Mss of Abhinavabharati and, to crown all, the earliest performance tradition in the form of Kutiyattam. Very little is known about Kerala’s Natyasastra tradition outside the state.

This performance-oriented project proposes to go deep into the cultural, trans-cultural and intra-cultural relations of our performance practices and to analyse the present to sort out the possibilities for future. The programme comprises of three components:

1. Discourses on the various aspects of theatre led by renowned scholars,

2. Lecture-demonstrations by performing groups guided by their Acharyas and

3. Actual performances illustrating the principles enunciated.

It examines the relation to Natyasatra of the contemporary productions of Habib Tanvir, Karanth and Kavalam. Also the directors of Kerala, P Gangadharan ,Chandradasan and Ramesh Varma talk on their experiences in linking their productions to the tradition. There will be panel discussion after presentations.


1. To reaffirm the theatrical past of India which integrates the divergent social patterns in its matrix to unify the country;

2. To search for Indian-ness in our performative practices;

3. To highlight the contribution of Kerala which paved the way for Kutiyattam and Kathakali which have won universal acclaim; and

4. To invigorate theatrical activities sharing the anxieties of activists regarding the survival of theatre in the changed cultural scenario.


26.02.2013, Tuesday

Session I

09.30 Introducing the theme K. G. Paulose

10.00 Presidential address N. P. Unni, Ex-Vice Chancellor, SSUS, Kalady

10.20 Keynote address Radhavallabh Tripathi, Vice-Chancellor, RSKS

11.20 Discussion

Session II

Natyasastra and Living Traditions

11.40 Keynote address Kamaleswar Dutt Tripathi, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Varanasi

01.00 Discussion

Session III

02.30 Lecture Indian Method in Acting - Sri. Prasanna, Theatre Director, Play write

03.30 Discussion


05.00 Urvasiviyoga Sadanam Balakrishnan as Pururava, and Leela Samson as Urvasi

07.00 Subhadradhananjayam Kutiyattam, Margi Madhu

27.02.2013, Wednesday

Session IV

Kerala’s Contribution to National Theatre

09.30 Presidential Address George S.Paul

10.00 Keynote address Kavalam Narayana Panikkar

Session V

11.40 Lect/Demo Acting dhvani/ narrations in Kutiyattam Margi Madhu, Indu.G

02.30 Lect/Demo Rasabhinaya in Kathakali -P.Venugopal, Kalamandalam Shanmughan


05.00 Tapatisamvarana Usha Nangiar

Krishnan Nambiar Mizhav Kalari

07.00 Draupadi (Malayalam Drama) Directed by Chandradasan, Lokadharmi

28.02.13, Thursday

Session VI

Contemporary Theatre: Encounter with Tradition

09.30 Presidential address Terry Converse, Professor of Theatre,  Washington State University

10.00 Keynote address Traditional Form and Contemporaniety : Challenges and Possibilities  - M.V.Narayanan

11.00 Discussion

Session VII

11.30 Lect/Demo De-codification and encodification of images in theatre - Sopanam, Thiruvananthapuram

02.30 Lecture Theatre of Kavalam Narayana Panikkar – Udayan Vajpayee, Bhopal

05.00 Lect/Demo Navarasasadhana

Sri.Venuji, Kapila Venu, Natanakairali


07.00 Kalidasa’s Malavikagnimitram  Directed by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, Sopanam

01.03.13 Friday

Session VIII

Contemporary Theatre: Encounter with Tradition (Contd.)

09.30 Presidential address

10.00 The fusion of conventional and folk in the theatre of B.V. Karanth -  Kirti Jain, National School of Drama, New Delhi

11.00 Discussion

Session IX

Understanding Women in Theatre

11.40 Presidential address N.K.Geetha

12.00 Anguish of Ahalya Usha Nangiar

12.30 Who is Draupadi to me? Sukanya

12.30 Madhavi – Victim of fate? Salini Vijayan

02.30 The inner conflicts of Sita Kapila Venu

03.30 Agony of Gandhari Indu.G

04.00 Discussion


06.00 Nangiarkoothu, Madhavi Kalamandalam Girija

07.00 Beegum Panicker Theatre Repertory FACS, (Malayalam Drama) Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, directed by Kumara Varma

02.03.13 – Saturday

Session X

Contemporary Theatre – Encounter with Tradition (Contd.)

09.30 Presidential address Anuradha Kapur, Director, NSD, New Delhi

10.20 Tradition in service of the Modern:The theatre of Habib Tanvir - Sudhanva Despande, Jananatyamunch, Delhi

11.20 Discussion

Session XI

Directors on their experiences in encountering Tradition

11.40 Presidential address T.M.Abraham, Vice Chairman, Sangeetha Nataka Akademi

12.10 P. Gangadharan

12.40 Rajalaxmy

02.00 Sajitha Madhathil

02.30 Chandradasan

03.00 Narippatta Raju

03.30 Discussion


05.00 Kathakali – Thapassattam Renjini Suresh

07.00 Mutiyettu – Ritual Theatre of Kerala

Panel of Chief Resource persons:

Dharmaraj Adattu, Raja Varier, P.V.Ramankutty, K.V.Vasudevan,C.R.Rajagopal, E.N.Narayanan


Anonymous said...




February 21, 2013 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger JikkuChacko said...

Nice...Best wishes.

February 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home