(Last Updated on : 19/04/2012)
Actors of Yaksagana have satisfied the tastes of the audiences. They are completely aware of the delicate touches of gestures and speed, helped by the make-up artists, the property man and even the prompter. The Yakshagana artist is at once a make-up expert, a dancer, and an effective actor with convincing declamatory powers. He, at the outset, should be strong physically; for the costumes of Yakshagana
are cumbrous and heavy, its dances vigorous and entrancing. Above all, he should possess great presence of mind and cold commonsense. As in the case of the actor of the modern stage, the spoken word is not written down for the Yakshagana artist. The Bhagavata
recites a verse and presents a theme to the artist to elaborate with his own words and acting. The spoken word is original, spontaneous and extempore. The prompter does not exist in the world of Yakshagana. It is this freedom of the artist and absence of any written dialogue that enlivens the performance and makes it new and sustaining every time. The prose interpretation demands that he should be alert every time though he may have played the same role in the same prabandha many times before. During a performance he lives in a state of real dramatic suspense as he would have no sure chance of knowing what his opponent would say next. This handicap is also the advantage of Yakshagana, for it changes the complexion of the dialogue and provides scope for alteration and improvement in characterisation. An artist would achieve the art of acting in Yakshagana only after careful observation and meticulous training for years, but the successful artists enjoyed a high status and honour in the coastal villages, and when they visited cities, they made a lasting impression on the urban audiences. They had a rare understanding of the secrets of acting and would compare well with any Indian or Western artist of the professional stage or screen.
Some of the masters in the art who are remembered even today are Kumbale Naranappa for portraying roles of humour, Kokkarane Ganapati for female roles, Kumbale Malinga for leading grand roles like Ravana
and Balarama, and Upparahalli Shesha playing sublime characters like Karna
. The legacy of this glorious art is ably borne today by experts like Keremane Sivarama Hegde, Karki Paramayya, Murur Devara Hegde, Brahma vara Veerabhadra and others in North Canara (Badagu tittu), and K. Vittala Sastri, Narayana Bhatta, Dejasetti, Haladi Rama and others in South Canara. When a performance of K. Shivarama Hegade or K. Vittal Sastri is witnessed, one feels that Yakshagana, in spite of the ravages of time and various pseudo-modern influences, has yet retained the rich traditions of Karnataka
and if the art is supported, it would undoubtedly see brighter days.