07 January 2010


We spent our last evening in Fort Kochi at a kathakali show at the Kerala Kathakali Centre. Kathakali, which translates as "show play", dates from the 1600's and is usually a dramatisation of one of the Hindu epic myths such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Puranas.

There's no dialogue in the play so the story is told through movement, hand gestures and facial expressions. Prior to the show starting the compare gave a crash course in some of the standard gestures and expressions so that we could understand what was going on (it didn't help much!). We also got to see the elaborate make-up process which transforms the actors into the various gods and deities.

The performers are accompanied by a singer who narrates the story and some drummers, whos main function appeared to be to try and cause some form of permanent hearing damage to the audience. Being as the stories are narrated/sung in Malayalam we were given a cheat sheet which explained the plot - some princes lost their wife in a dice game, had to kill the wife's captor and wash her hair in his blood to set her free (que lots of gore and entrails).

Traditionally kathakali shows would last from early evening until dawn, thankfully we only had to sit through a small exert from the Mahabharata that lasted an hour.

No comments:

Post a Comment