Halsigi, in Belgaum district
, of the many short-lived companies, the professional troupe of (in) deserves mention. The ceaseless effort of Shantakavi and his enthusiastic and talented band of artists shook the people and artists of Gadag out of their sloth and inspired them to revive the professional theatre in North Karnataka. The immediate outcome was heartening, as a number of dramatic troupes sprang up in Dharwar, Ranebennur, Hirekerur, Lakshmeshwar, Hubli, Kaujalgi, Navalgund, Naragund, Halsigi, Badami and Rabakavi. Halsigi had a cultural heritage, of its own, as it was the capital of the Kadamba dynasty
in the 10th and 11th centuries, and had remained sensitive to any political or cultural movement. The Halsigi group must have come up about the year 1878-79.
The moving spirit behind it was Venkannachar Agalagatti, popularly called Shrlnlvasa Kavi, who wrote plays like Shrimatl Parinaya, Madalasa Parinaya, Draupadi
Vastrapaharana and Bhasmasuravadhe. The reason for the great popularity of the Halisigi group was the exceptional talent of the artists, who were learned in classics of Sanskrit language
and Kannada language
. They lived a pious life and never missed their religious observances and proved that an artist of the stage could retain his orthodoxy and piety. While on tour, the artists attracted people by their Pravachanas, or musical discourses built around stories from the epics and classics. They considered their tours as a religious and cultural mission and utilised their time for the best advantage of both the villagers and themselves.
Theirs was one of the best methods of attracting people to the theatre. On invitation, they toured different important villages and cities from Belgaum to Bellary. After a period of inactivity, the company revived itself in about the year 1882 and started on its rounds once again. During this second phase of its activity it produced two exceptionally talented artists who were renamed Sandigl and Mandigi who are even now remembered for their histrionic abilities. Virata Parva was the most popular play of this troupe.
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