Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: Ancient Yakshagana Dance Drama

By Ken Bullock
Thursday November 07, 2013 - 10:13:00 PM

Something truly rare: Yakshagana Bay Area has announced a joint production, one day only, November 10 at 4-7 pm, Spangenberg Theatre, Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto, of a Yakshagana troupe, musicians and actors, from South India. This exhilarating ancient theatrical form, which bears resemblance to Kathakali in its use of music, dramatic and acrobatic dance and lavish costumes and make-up to tell epic mythic stories of gods and heroes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana (though in Yakshagana the actors improvise dialogue), has seldom been seen here--I've been to two excellent shows of different styles of it, one (at Mills College, dancer Martha Ashton involved with the production) was over thirty years ago, the other, also produced by Yagshagana Bay Area, was just last year in Woodside.  

It's hard to get across what sheer fun a Yakshagana performance is, with occasional wild humor, action, virtuosic dance, heroes, villains and monsters, all in the service of mythic stories that can be bawdy, impressive, touching, inspiring. It's also a festive atmosphere, with South Indian families attending like it's a holiday. True popular theater, performed by splendid artists, a glimpse into the past, into cultures that have evolved differently than ours. 

'Kamsa Jamana' (The Birth of Evil) There will be titles in English, synopses of the scenes played. 

Presented in association with Silicon Sage Foundation and Shri Siddhi Vinayaka Cultural Centre, Fremont. $15-$50 (kids under 10 free). Tickets at the door.