(Last Updated on : 21/04/2012)
Scenography of Malayalam theatre plays a crucial role in enhancing theatre culture of the state. A lot of serious emphasis is laid on making the stage look good and realistic. Restrictions imposed upon the actors or acting is very few indeed, except in the case of Kuttu and Kutiyattam
, and all of them dispense with the necessity for an elaborate stage.
The tradition Indian theatre started before the birth of Jesus Christ
since Koodiyattam, the tradition of Sanskrit theatre, now surviving only in Kerala, is believed to be more than 2,000 years old. The concept of modern theatre reached the shores of Kerala shores a little over a century ago, when Kerala Varma Valia Koyi Tampuran translated and adapted Kalidasa
's Shakuntalam into a format suited for a theatrical. This set in motion a trend of making translations of renowned plays from Sanskrit theatre
Any open space with a small temporary shed used to serve as a stage, and a coloured piece of cloth to serve as a curtain constitute the essential stage accessories. Lighting effect is never attended to, and, as a general rule, there will be but a single big brass lamp, about three feet high with wicks placed on either side. It is also not allowed to spice the representations with any sort of instrumental music. All the music available is what is produced on Asura Vadyas and what is supplied by the vocal music of the actors or the singers themselves. The absolutely primitive nature of the accompaniments and the accessories is a sure indication of the necessarily great share of work that the actors themselves have to discharge to win popular appreciation and approval; and it is no small credit to their superb acting that many of these varieties do cater even today to the recreation and pleasure not merely of the rustic crowd but also of the enlightened.
This Kuttipalam is used to be built within the premises of the major temples in central Kerala. However, other indigenous but unsullied traditions may be even older than Kutiyattam. Most are ritualistic in nature, centred on solo performances characterized by rhythmic movements and colourful costumes. These are often seen as presenting gods or humans elevated to deified status. The best-developed and typical examples are Teyyam of north Kerala and Patayani of the south. Teyyam and Patayani are enacted as devotional rituals frequently connected with kavus, or temples to the goddess Kali
. The performers are mostly known as the Kolams who perform spatial movements and rhythmic footwork in tune with the beating of drums and generally move along the streets around the place of worship. This is accompanied by the village folk who express their devotion by shouting aloud. Many approach the kolams as devotees and the kolams respond to their appeals for blessings. Thus the Teyyam artist's individual performance becomes part of a drama in which most of the villagers turn into active participants.