Kathakali

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.

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A man decorated the space with flowers, candles, and sand paintings.

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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.

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One of our heroes kills the bad guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Cairo, Egypt.
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