Dance & Theatre
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Bali- Thara Conversation in Kutiyattam

Kutiyattam, the Sanskrit theatre from Kerala, is the oldest living theatrical tradition in India. This art form, which has a history dating back to 2000 years, is a synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and Kerala’s local tradition.

The word Kutiyattam in Malayalam means ‘acting together’. True to its name, it is a theatre in which many characters come together on stage. Segments of Sanskrit plays are taken for Kutiyattam performance. But on stage, these short acts get a full fledged identity.

The main linguistic medium of Kutiyattam is Sanskrit. But the Vidushaka or jester of the dance drama speaks in the vernacular.

Kutiyattam is performed strictly indoors in a separate theatres called Koothambalams constructed as an annex to the temples, mostly on the right side.

In Kutiyattam, as in Kathakali, there are specific characters representing certain qualities. The Pacha (green) characters are noble ones, the Pazhukka (light red) are both noble and heroic, the Kathi (knife) are valorous but evil, Thadi (beard) are monkey characters like Hanuman, Minukku (gloss) are simple and female characters and the Kari (black) denotes demonesses like Surpanakha.

Percussions like Mizhavu, thimila and edakka and wind instruemnts like  kurumkuzhal, sankhu, accompany the Kutiyattam performance. In the video it is Margi Sathi and Kalamandalam Sivan Namboothiri, two renowned Kutiyattam artist, performing as Thara and Bali respectively.