(Last Updated on : 28-03-2012)
T. T. Sankaradas Swamigal was a renowned playwright, director, manager, actor, and also composer. He provided the link between earlier performance traditions and twentieth-century Tamil theatre
. Sankaradas Swamigal was born in Kattunayakkanpatti village, Chidambaranar district in 1867 in Tamil Nadu
. He took lessons from his father, who was a traditional scholar in Tamil literature
. While working in a salt storehouse in Tuticorin, he spent a good deal of time watching plays. At the age of 16 he could compose songs in traditional prosodic forms. At 24, he joined the stage as an actor. He became most popular for mythical antagonists' roles like Iraniyan, Ravana
, Saniswaran, Ghatotkacha, and Dussasana. The story goes that a washerwoman died of fright as he left his tent to remove his make-up soon after a performance as Saniswaran. Because of this reason he quit acting. He remained celibate, hence the title Swamigal, or swami.
T. T. Sankaradas Swamigal's credentials as an indefatigable teacher of theatrical skills reached Jaffna, Ceylon, where he went in 1900 to train artists. Stories about the importance given to discipline by him still circulate among performers. Members of his company had to avoid smoking, chewing betel leaves, and drinking liquor. He never praised individuals. Sankaradas Swamigal formed the Samarasa Sanmarga Sabha in 1910 and Tattuva Minalochani Vidya Balasabha in 1918. It used to give training young boys to act. The T. K. S. Brothers began their career here. Swamigal supposedly said that children extended far more cooperation than adults. His troupe influenced the phenomenal growth of boys' companies in Tamil Nadu. The repertoire of "Special drama" as it is now called, owes its existence to him. His several musical plays namely Pavalakkodi, Nallatangal, Kovalan, Valli tirumanam and Gnana Soundariare are still popular especially in southern Tamil Nadu.
T. T. Sankaradas Swamigal died in 1922.
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