Kattaikkuttu is a rural theatre form practiced in the State of Tamil
Nadu in South India. The performers – by tradition only men -
sing, act and dance and the musicians accompany them on the harmonium,
the mridangam and the mukavinai. The terms
1 History 2 Repertory 3 Style 4 About the Gurukulam 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links
Kattaikkuttu derives its name from the word kattai, which refers to
the special ornaments worn by the actors during performances; kuttu
refers to theatre. The audience recognizes the various characters by
the shapes of their head wear and their make-up.
Kattaikkuttu has been performed in rural
The Bending of the Bow or Draupadi’s Marriage
The Royal Sacrifice
The Disrobing of Draupadi
Kattaikkuttu is usually performed in a religious setting and performances take place overnight: they start around 10pm and run until 6am the next morning. The occasions for Kattaikkuttu performances can be divided into the following categories:
Paratam (Mahabharata) festivals in honor of the Goddess Other village festivals such as those for Mariyamman, Ankalamman, Shiva and Vishnu Rites of individuals such as death rites Secular occasions e.g. cultural festivals
Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam is regularly visited by prominent scholars
in the theatre world--for example, Bennington College professor Sue
Rees regularly visits the school to produce short videos and
documentaries which feature various
Kattaikkuttu derives its name from the fact that a specific category
of actors wear the so-called kattai or kattai samankal. Kattai are
wooden head, shoulder and the breast ornaments inlaid with mirror
work. The kattai represent power, heroic qualities and royalty. The
kattai-wearers represent superhuman – divine or demonic – warriors
who are the main agents in the mythological battles around which the
performances are built.
The acting arena is an open rectangular ground and the audience sits
on three sides of the ground. The singers and the instrument players
occupy the rear of the stage. The play begins with a musical
introduction and songs in praise to several different deities. The
first character to appear on stage is the clown or Kattiyakkaran
(literally Praise Maker). The Kattiyakkaran is central to Kattaikkuttu
performances: he provides entertainment, serves as the guardian of and
opposite number for the principal characters and translates events
from the epic and Puranic stories into everyday life experiences of
the rural audiences. After his comic introduction, the Kattiyakkaran
announces the title of the play to be performed and the entry of one
of the principal characters. The stage entry of most kattai characters
takes place behind a curtain held across the stage by two assistant
performers. Such a curtain entry requires the actor to perform a
prescribed routine of songs and dance. All
Kattaikkuttu actors sing
themselves, supported by the chorus.
About the Gurukulam
Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam was founded in October 2002 by actor,
playwright and director P. Rajagopal and Dr. Hanne M. de Bruin to
preserve and enhance the scope of the
Kattaikkuttu theatre and
safeguard the artistic and economic position of its future exponents.
The students are marginalized, young rural people between 5 and 20
years with a keen interest in the theatre form. Located 8 kilometers
^ Jackie Assayag (1999). The Resources of history: Tradition,
narration and nation in South Asia. École française
d'Extrême-Orient. ISBN 978-2-85539-607-1.
^ a b Bruin, Hanne M de (1999). Kattaikkuttu: The flexibility of a
south Indian theatre tradition. E. Forsten. pp. 85–99.
ISBN 978-90-6980-103-2. OCLC 42312297.
^ Bruin, Hanne M. de (2000). "Naming a theatre in Tamil Nadu". Asian
Theatre Journal. 17 (1): 98–122. doi:10.1353/atj.2000.0001.
^ Bruin, Hanne M de (1999). Kattaikkuttu: The flexibility of a south
Indian theatre tradition. E. Forsten. pp. 113–124.
ISBN 978-90-6980-103-2. OCLC 42312297.
^ Bruin, Hanne M. de (1998). "
Further reading Frasca, Richard Armando (1990). Theatre of the Mahabharata: terukkuttu Performances in South India. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-1290-4. OCLC 21147946. External links