Thursday, 24 July 2008

Kathakali: classical dance-drama from South India

To celebrate its 21st anniversary, The Kala Chethena Kathakali Theatre Company, one of the world’s foremost Indian dance companies presents a UK tour of Kathakali: classical dance-drama from South India featuring legendary Kathakali master Kalamandalam Gopi.

Kathakali - meaning ‘story play’ - embraces drama, dance, music, visual arts and ritual to create one of the world’s most exotic, visually exciting, and powerful forms of theatre. Colourful costumes and elaborate three dimensional make-up (known as ‘chutti’) magically transform the actors into gods, kings, devils and princesses, allowing them to tell universal stories of the struggle between good and evil through gesture, emotion and expression.

Ancient and classical in nature, Kathakali embodies centuries of Asian tradition and culture. It is not simply a dance-drama but an act of devotion combined with physical virtuosity and symbolic storytelling.

Kathakali originated in the temples of Kerala, South India, over 500 years ago, and most of the characters and stories are derived from Hindu epics. Spiritual, social and personal issues form the basis of the stories, and many topics have resonance with modern life: tales of war, power, single parent families, gambling, homelessness, murder, theft, love, marriage, forgiveness and loyalty are all touched on.

The Kala Chethena Kathakali Theatre Company, featuring visiting internationally renowned artists from Kerala, South India - including world famous Kathakali master, Kalamandalam Gopi - celebrates its 21st anniversary year with this ten week UK tour, taking in venues from Somerset to the isolated villages of Scotland.

Formed in 1987, the company is now the foremost exponent of Kathakali, and this tour offers a rare opportunity to see such eminent artists perform this exceptional, legendary artform, and experience extraordinary non-western theatre and culture.

For show timings which start in September and run through to November 2008, see:

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