(Last Updated on : 03-04-2013)
Theatre Personalities of Kerala paved the path of theatrical culture in Malayalam state since decades. The theatre personalities of Kerala are of existing generation, Kutiyattam, fully established by the ninth century, is probably the longest-surviving continuous theatrical tradition in the world.
The theatre personalities of Kerala initially staged classical Sanskrit plays, but not entirely Sanskrit theatre in the strict sense because the enactment included elaborate oral elucidation in Malayalam. The form of art - Kuttipalam is now performed by the theatre personalities of Kerala within the premises of the major temples in central Kerala. However, other native traditions of Malayalam theatre may be even older than Kutiyattam. Most of the theatre personalities of Kerala followed certain rituals of the nature before performing on the dais. Their rhythmic movements and colourful costumes characterize the unmatched solo performances of the theatre personalities of Kerala. These performances are still famous and often present gods or humans elevated to deified status.
The theatre personalities of Kerala performed Teyyam and Patayani as devotional rituals that are frequently connected with kavus, or temples to the Goddess Kali. The theatre personalities of Kerala belong to families that hold the hereditary duty or right to do these particular roles. These descents are known as kolams. Each kolam has a specific costume of colourful dress material; ornaments of the theatre personalities of Kerala are made of objects obtained from nature, and an impressive crown or mutt, often considerably high or broad.
The theatre personalities of Kerala are often seen to work in shows involving a number of characters, enacting mythological stories and ritualistic representations of natural phenomena or fertility cults. The theatre personalities of Kerala deal with definite themes that are developed in the course of the performance.
The extraordinary appeal of theatre personalities of Kerala inspired the theatre forms of other south Indian states to compose and perform similar works. The influence of these theatre personalities of Kerala on the masses grew so strong that even generally realistic drama began to be produced with the addition of songs. A literary development brought about a far-reaching change amidst the audiences. C. V. Raman Pillai, E. V. Krishna Pillai, P. J. Antony, C. N. Srikanthan Nair, K. T. Mohamed, N. P. Chellappan Nair are some of the best known theatre personalities of Kerala.
The theatre personalities of Kerala also worked in dramatizations of historical novels. The second phase of amateur theatre created by the theatre personalities of Kerala featured gradual evolution brought about by the writing of various types of plays including dramatic literature adapted from the West that were mostly romantic in nature. The acting of the theatre personalities of Kerala combined with naturalism and overdramatic elements, brought about melodramatic essence in the serious plays. The few plays of literary merit that appeared on the amateur stage included the reputed works of the Kainikkara brothers while T. Sukumaran Nair introduced the romantic trend.
Besides performing, the theatre personalities of Kerala also discovered the inherent aesthetic qualities and creative potential of traditional elements and adapt them to the requirements of contemporary theatre. The theatre personalities of Kerala followed the same phenomena and interpretations of the Sanskrit dramas of Bhasa in Malayalam theatre. The theatre personalities of Kerala were acclaimed in Kerala and elsewhere for inspiring Indian theatre by these methods. But other directors who followed his example did not meet with similar success.
However, acting styles in the second half of the twentieth century of the theatre personalities of Kerala ranged from the realism on the amateur stage and in professional theatre as well. This also can be seen to the larger-than-life villains and movie heroes of Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair and the chameleonic naturalism of Bharat Gopi. Thus theatre personalities of Kerala revealed an irreconcilable diversity as well as a meaningful search for identity.