(Last Updated on : 16/04/2010)
Vikrista is the rectangular type of theatre or play house as mentioned in the Natyashastra
. The Vikrista playhouses should be sixty four Hastas long and thirty two Hastas in width. A playhouse, bigger than this size, shall not be erected because the play staged therein cannot be adequately expressive. Besides this the facial expression of the actors loses its distinct visibility when the playhouse is too big. The representation of the Bhavas and Rasas depends on the facial expression.
The soil should be plain, firm, hard and black or white for the purpose of erecting the playhouse. The ground should be cleared neatly. Then it should be ploughed well. After clearing the ground the builder measures the site. A string that will not easily snap should be used for this purpose. If the string breaks into two pieces in the middle, the sponsor of the dramatic performance will meet with his death. If the string snaps at a third of its length some political upheaval is bound to occur in the land. If it snaps at a fourth of its length the preceptor will die. If the string slips down some kind of loss is indicated. Hence the string is handled with great care. There shall be scrupulousness in the activity of measurement. The measurement should be done when the moment is auspicious in regard to Tithi (lunar day) and Karana (lunar conjunction). The Brahmins should be propitiated and the Punyaha Mantra should be recited.
The builder then measures a plot of land sixty four Hastas long. This shall be divided into two equal parts. He shall then divide portion behind him into two equal parts. The hinder most of these two is again divided into two. One of these two is the stage proper and the other is the green room (Nepathya). After the division and measurement of the plot with the requisite rules, the builder should lay the foundation stone of the dramatic house when different kinds of musical instruments should be played such as Mridanga, Parjava, Dundubhi and Sankha. All undesirable persons such as heretics, recluses in ochre coloured robes and men with physical handicaps should be sent away from the places where the ceremonies are conducted.
During the night, offerings are made to the gods guarding the quarters, consisting of sweet scents, flowers, fruits and foodstuffs of diverse kinds. While making the offerings the requisite Mantras are to be uttered in regard to the deity presiding over the different quarters. Ghee and milk pudding should be given to scholarly Brahmins at the time of the foundation laying ceremony. The foundation stone should be laid during the auspicious lunar day. The foundation stone having been duly laid the architect proceeds to build the walls and erection of pillars in an auspicious Tithi and excellent Karana with an excellent asterism. Rohini or Sravana are the usual asterisms for this purpose.
The preceptor of dramatic art fasts for three days and nights with great faith and then erects the pillars at dawn when the auspicious moment arrives. All the articles used in the ceremony regarding the Brahmin pillar are to be white in colour after purifying them with ghee and mustard seed. In regard to the Kshatriya pillar the ceremony ought to be performed with red coloured cloth, garlands and unguents. Treacle mixed cooked rice should be offered to the Brahmins
. The erection of Vaisya pillar is in the north-western quarter of the dramatic house with yellow articles. The Sudra pillar is erected in the north eastern quarter with offerings of blue articles.
At the outset white garlands and unguents and a piece of gold from an ear ornament are thrown at the foot of the Brahmin pillar. Copper
, silver and iron
are respectively to be thrown at the feet of the three other pillars. Brahmins are propitiated with adequate gifts of jewels, cows and cloths. After scrupulously following these participants in the ceremony sound the musical instruments the pillars are raised uttering a Mantra. On either side of the stage a Mattavaram (side room) is built furnished with four pillars. It is as long as the stage and its plinth is one and a half Hastas high.
In a rectangular theatre there are six pieces of wood in the Rangasirsa
(stage head). The green room is furnished with two doors. The ground marked for the stage is to be filled with black earth assiduously. No stone chip, gravel or grass should be mixed therein. The entire stage head is to be very carefully constructed. After the construction of the plinth of the stage, planned wood work decoration should be arranged for consisting of ornamental designs, carved figures of animals such as elephants, tigers etc., and wooden statues. After the wood work is over the builders give a furnishing touch to the walls. It should be remembered that the pillars, brackets, windows, corners or doorways should be such as they do not face the doors.
The playhouse should resemble a mountain-cave and consist of two floors of different levels with small windows. Too much of wind should not blow in it. It must enhance the acoustic quality so that the sound of the musical instruments and the utterances of the actors are perfectly audible. After finishing the construction of the walls the plaster work, white washing must be undertaken. The plaster and lime should be smeared carefully. Thereafter painting work must be undertaken. Men, women, creepers, love play of folks etc. should be painted. In this manner the play house of the vikrista or rectangular type is constructed.