History of Kannada Theatre
The History of Kannada Theatre or, theatre of Karnataka, speaks about the performing art in a great manner. The Kannada language has contributed a great deal towards the success of its theatre. The extensive usage of Kannada literature for the performance of Kannada plays has also facilitated a great deal from the time of Kavirajamarga of Nripatunga of the 9th century A.D. The history of Kannada theatre, at least, the post folk era - the modern Kannada theatre - begins during 19th century, when the British Empire already set up its rule in present day Karnataka.
Development of Kannada Theatre
Process of development of Kannada theatre, over the last century, has been momentous. There have been, though a little slow, major progresses made. With regard to professional and amateur theatre, considerable advancements have been made in the process of showmanship. Improvements have also been made in various other aspects like the stage sound, light, settings, make-up, costumes, scenery and also methods of portrayal.
Forms of Kannada Theatre
While talking about the forms of Kannada theatre it must be said that, the theatre of Karnataka can be broadly divided into 2 major forms. First being the modern Kannada theatre and second, the amateur Kannada theatre. Modern Kannada theatre has had a profound impact on the theatre culture of the Indian state of Karnataka. The term modern Kannada theatre explains the period in Kannada theatre from 1857 to 1950. The modern Kannada theatre grew out of the traditional forms and gave itself to new form inspired from west. The success and improvement of Kannada theatre owes a lot to the richness of Kannada literature. Modern theatre in Karnataka came into existence with the translation from Sanskrit Theatre or drama during 1870-80. The Kannada theatre has different themes ranging from mythological, historical to social. The themes in Kannada theatre are varied in content and are adapted for drama from reality as well as from fiction.
Amateur Kannada theatre is not an ancient concept. The formation and development of amateur theatre began around the 1950s in Karnataka. With the "Karnataka Renaissance", a lot of creations were made in the field of literature - new plays, dramas, novels, short stories and poems were getting composed and written. The concept of Amateur Kannada theatre was incepted with an attempt to remove the stage from the hands of commercialism and to bestow it with decorum and self-esteem. This also assisted in developing awareness about theatre among the masses. The Amateur Kannada Theatre, unlike old time professional theatre of Mysore, had the required strength to co-exist with Indian cinema.
Types of Kannada Theatre
As far as the Kannada theatre is concerned, there are indeed varied forms. The Shadow theatre in Karnataka is a popular concept which is a specialised technique in play production. It has every accessory of a regular stage play with a theme and playingactors; but here, the spectator beholds not the actor in flesh and blood but only his shadow in black on the white screen.
The children's theatre in Karnataka and Opera theatre in Karnataka is a popular form of theatre in the state. While the former is quite popular among the people of the state, the later is a musical representation of drama. The Children's theatre takes care to produce different types of plays to different age groups. The specialist playwright, actor and producer use their best judgement and put in their best efforts to cater to the growing mind of the child. Kannada Operas, though small in number, have exhibited a high musical quality and have proved to be quite dramatic. It is capable of portraying different emotions of different characters at the same time. Radio plays, impromptu plays and court theatres have also been very common in the state of Karnataka.
Performance of Kannada Theatre
Over the years, the performance of Kannada theatre has greatly improved. There has been a lot of creativity, innovation and experimentation that has gone into the process of writing, acting and executing the plays in Kannada language. Considerable improvements were also made with regard to some of the fundamental aspects of the stage like; stage music, make up, settings, scenery and methods of portrayal. The theatre often gave in, though unwillingly, to the popular demands, and amended its ways both in regard to the theme and the manner of presentation. The make-ups and costumes played a very important role, and so did the Stage Settings in Kannada Theatre and Music in Kannada Theatre.
Theatre Personalities of Karnataka
All states of the Indian Sub- continent reflect the rich heritage of entertainment. Besides amusing the people's mind, the theatres introduced various talented personalities to the world. Some of the popular Theatre personalities of Karnataka are Chandrashekhar Patil, Bellave Narahari Sastri, H. S. Shiva Prakash, A. V. Varadachar, Gubbi H. Veeranna, T. Hombaiah, B. Jayamma, R. Nagarathnamma, Bellary Raghava, Mysore Srinivasa Sathyu, Chikka Honnappa Bhagavathar, T. Raghavachari, Sadasivarao Garud, Mohamed Peer, T. P. Kailasam, Handiganur Siddharamappa and K. Hirannayya.
Theatre Companies of Karnataka
Theatre Companies in Karnataka came into existence during the last quarter of the 19th century. The years from 1880 to 1920, which brought about some major changes in the Kannada literature, were popularly known as the period of "Karnataka Renaissance". The theatres during that time encompassed themes related to society. The theatre companies travelled from one place to another to popularise the Kannada form of entertainment. These professional artistes donated their talent to echo the grandeur of the era.
Contemporary Kannada theatre reached a phase of change during 1950s. The contemporary Kannada Theatre speaks volumes about the potential of the state of Karnataka. The Kannada literature, comprising of prose, poetry and novels have always been appreciated by reader and literary lovers for its rich value, but theatre somehow has always been made to play second fiddle. With the new and talented theatre personalities of Karnataka taking up the responsibly of theatre promotion, Kannada theatre, certainly looks in good stead for future.