There are evidences indicating the existence of Kannada plays which seem to be mostly translated from Sanskrit. Ancient Kannada works (kavya) show a close affinity to Sanskrit language, and by the times of Nripatunga (9th century A. D.), writers in Sanskrit seem to have been accepted as models to copy. Sanskrit literature gave predominance to its drama (Kavyesu natakam ramyam), and eminent playwrights like Bhasa and Kalidasa must have impressed on the times with their craft and skill. It is possible that the Kannada writers of those times persuaded themselves simply to translate into Kannada the then available Sanskrit plays. That the Natyashastra of Bharata was held in high esteem as the ultimate authority on the science and art of dramaturgy is made evident by Adipampa, who, in his Vikramarjuna Vijaya, mentioned that the Kauravas and Pandavas were given lessons in the Natyashastra. It was perhaps the fashion of the times to fall back on the Sanskrit literature and to translate some of its well known works into Kannada.
The Sanskrit Kavya always included nataka. It is thus noticed that by the 10th century A.D., plays were possibly rendered into Kannada from Sanskrit and that Natyashastra was held in high esteem. The word "nataka" was freely used and its significance was fully understood. The inference that the post tenth century period had a flourishing Kannada theatre Stage is substantiated by a few references of that time when Karnataka reaped a rich harvest of merited literature.
Visible traces of art and culture are embedded in the invisible past, and thus, if some tangible traces of the existence of drama could be found in the early 10th century, the tradition must have found its roots further back in the past; but the absence of earlier evidences to the written drama or the court theatre leads one to consider as to whether the court theatre had its beginning in Karnataka only after the Sanskrit plays had come to be known all over. If ever there existed a theatre in Karnataka earlier than 800 A. D., it must have been the folk theatre which now demands a fuller consideration