New: Around & About--Ancient Indian Theater & Dance: Kudiyattam

Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 01, 2017 - 10:31:00 AM

This weekend at the Mondavi Center, UC Davis

A remarkable event--perhaps the oldest ongoing theater form in the world, Kudiyattam, the last representative of the 2000 year old Sanskrit Theater, will be featured in performances this Friday and Saturday nights at the Mondavi Center on the UC Davis campus. 

Kudiyattam is hard to see in India, outside of Kerala state, and even there performances are relatively rare. 

Performed by highly-trained dancing actors who, as in the better-known theater form Kathakali (which was preceded and deeply influenced by Kudiyattam), are lavishly made up and costumed, stories from ancient Indian scriptures, myths and legends are danced to drums and percussion instruments while the text is sung. (There will be English subtitles at the Mondavi Center.)  

Kudiyattam itself dates back at least a millenium, its origins shrouded in time. It was first performed outside the temples, a controversial act, in 1955--and outside kerala, in Chennai, in 1962.  

The performances--Friday, of the demon Ravana's attack on the moon, and Saturday a sequence from Kalidasa's famous Sanskrit play, 'Sakuntala,' from a tale in the Mahabharata, translated into European languages in the late 18th century (praised by Goethe, subject of an uncompleted opera by Schubert, and of a sculpture by Camille Claudel)--are at 8 in the Jackson Hall Stage, preceded at 7 both nights by a free talk by Professor David Schulman of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Tickets are $10-$30 at: https://mondaviarts.org/event/2017-18-kudiyattam