Kochi | A four-day Kathakali festival will be held from December 8 in the run-up to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the art extravaganza commencing on December 12. The ‘Bharateeyam’ programme will showcase the choreographically dense Kottayam plays known for their structural eminence, as stalwarts along with promising actor-dancers, musicians, percussionists and make-up artistes of the classical Kerala ballet will present select scenes from the four stories related to the epic Mahabharata.
‘Bagavadham’, ‘Kalyanasougandhikam’, ‘Kirmeeravadham’ and ‘Kalakeyavadham’, penned by 17th-century playwright Kottayathu Thampuran of Malabar, will find platforms respectively in the festival at Changampuzha Park, Edappally, led by Kathakali icon Kalamandalam Gopi who will be the main performer on the final evening, organisers said today.
The four Kottayam plays form the pillars of Kathakali choreography even as they display timeless architectural splendour with measured use of space, pointed out Keli Ramachandran, the curator of the culture segment of KMB 2014. Biennale Director of Programmes Riyas Komu said performing arts cannot be detached from a festival like the KMB which seeks to mirror the composite culture of a territory.
Organised by Kochi Biennale Foundation in association with Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram and Edappally Aswadaka Sadas, the ‘Bharateeyam’ festival also marks a rare coming together of four weighty Kathakali plays.
It is excellent that Kottayam plays have emerged from a near-eclipse they experienced on stage till a quarter century ago, said 77-year-old Gopi, who will present the classicism-steeped Arjuna in ‘Kalakeyavadham’ on December 11. More so, here in a festival that forms part of what is India’s only biennale, he added.