The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented Kathakali — A Condensed Perspective (India) livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Monday 7 October at 3:30 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 5:30 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 6:30 p.m. EDT (New York).
A classical dance-drama tradition dating back to 17th century, Kathakali of Kerala (India) is one of the most widely known art form in the East and the West alike. Is it a dance-form? A pantomime? A classical theater? A story- telling-tradition replete with super-human characters in myriad hues? In fact it is very difficult to give a comprehensive definition of Kathakali. It encompasses dancing, acting, vocal music, percussion music, intriguing make-up, glittering headgears, fantastic costumes and a riot of colors. Traditionally a nocturnal event held in the temples of Kerala, Kathakali remained for the most part a non-liturgical heritage. Kathakali was heading to extinction by the close of the 19th century for want of patronage. Featuring a Lecture Performance by Kaladharan Viswanath.
In 1930 celebrated poet and connoisseur of Kathakali, Vallathol Narayana Menon founded Kerala Kalamandalam to save it from total extinction. It was a period of cultural renaissance and Vallathol’s gesture of institutionalizing Kathakali and similar performing arts was the only alternative left to resuscitate them against the breakdown of the joint family system and feudalism. Since then, Kathakali began to grow from within and outside. Its aesthetics and narratological devices attracted dance-choreographers, theater-directors and musicians of the east and the west so profoundly that Kathakali became a regular event in the international cultural festivals held all over the world. Workshops and lecture-demonstrations of Kathakali are common in the theater, music and dance departments of all the major Universities and Art Academies in Asia, Europe, the US, Canada and Australia.