Don Quixote in Kathakali form

Sunday, Jun 26, 2016,13:54 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | Renowned Spanish classic Don Quixote will now have an adaptation of Kerala’s iconic Kathakali theatre, which is to be staged in Madrid as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of the novel written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

Kerala’s leading Kathakali group Margi has structured the Kathakali play of the novel in which role of lead character will be played by eminent artiste Nelliyod Vasudevan Namboodiri.
Kathakali is the most renowned symbol of Kerala’s cultural heritage.

The adaptation of Don Quixote in Kathakali form has been inspired by artistes associated with Spanish cultural institution Casa de la India. Some of them had come to Kerala to learn its rich culture and art forms including Kathakali years back.

An office bearer of Margi said the Spanish art enthusiasts want to mark the fourth centenary of the death of Cervantes and the 400th anniversary of the publication of the second part of Don Quixote as also the 60 years of diplomatic relations between Spain and India through adaptation of Don Quixote in Kathakali, the art form that uses the body as a tool, using sign language as the main vehicle for story telling.

A 17-member team from Margi is travelling to Spain from July 8 to August 3 to stage this Kathakali play at six venues including at the International Classical Theatre Festival of Almagro on July 22.

“We see this as a cultural exchange cutting across continental boundaries. We are sure that the viewers in Spanish cities will accept and appreciate our endeavour”, S Sasikumar, an office bearer of Margi said.

Traditionally Kathakali plays are based on episode taken from Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, over the decade there also have been adaptations of world classics including William Shakespeare’s Kinglear which was premiered in London years back, Sasikumar said.

‘Attakatha’ (script for Kathakali) for the adaptation was penned by P Venugopalan, vice-president of Margi.

Ahead of their trip to Spain, Don Quixote Kathakali stage will be premiered in Thiruvananthapuram on July 3.
The novel is considered one of the most influential works of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon.

Sasikumar said Nelliyod plays Quixano as his features matched that of Quixano as described by Cervantes in the novel Don Quixote, published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615.

Kathakali plays are enacted on the premises of temples mostly as part of their annual festivals. Over the years, the art has also assumed a secular dimension with Biblical themes being adapted by the classical theatre.