Kerala is home to a unique theatre form called kathakali. By chance, Andreas was studying kathakali just a few weeks ago as part of an IB theatre teaching training course, so he was very excited at the prospect of seeing a live performance.
Kathakali developed in southern India out of older Hindu temple dramas, and has remained essentially the same since the 17th century. A performance features elaborately made up and costumed actors who use a specialized language of hand gestures, facial movements, and dance to tell a traditional story or epic. The actors are supported by a singer and musicians.
The training for this art is rigorous and lengthy: four years to be a makeup artist, and six minimum for a singer or dancer/actor. The performances themselves are also lengthy, lasting from evening until dawn. A temple in Kochi hosted one of these while we were in India, but unfortunately we missed it because we were away in Aleppey. But happily for us there was a kathakali school right around the corner from our homestay in Kochi, and this school offered a nightly show for tourists. We went twice.
If you go early you can watch the performers putting on their makeup.
A man decorated the space with flowers, candles, and sand paintings.
Because this was a demonstration for tourists, the actors showed some of some of the basic movements while a narrator explained what they meant. Kathakali actors spend thousands of hours learning to control eye and facial muscles.
Then they performed a scene or short story from one of the plays. On the nights we went we saw two different parts of the epic Mahabharata.
One of our heroes kills the bad guy.