Kudiyattam: The Last Living Sanskrit Theater in the World

Datum: 15.07.2015

Vortrag: Prof. Dr. David Shulman

In Kerala, on the south-west coast of India, artists from the Chakyar and Nambyar communities continue to perform Sanskrit plays in the classical style known as Kudiyattam, "Acting Together"-- this name perhaps reflecting the intimate link between actors and drummers. Kudiyattam is the last representative in the world of living Sanskrit theater. It was preserved for the last thousand years in the great Kerala temples, each of which has a "dance pavilion," kuttambalam; the artists were, in pre-modern times, servants of the temple and its god and sustained by temple funds. Today Kudiyattam competes with all other artistic genres in Kerala, and the artists struggle to survive. Full-scale performances are long-- ranging from 12 hours to 150 hours, usually spread over many days and nights. The tradition presents us with performances of staggering complexity and beauty, ruled by an expressive logic that we can formulate inductively. The Hebrew University and the University of Tuebingen have been involved in a long-term project of documenting and elucidating the Kudiyattam repertoire; the lecture will offer an introduction to this classical art, including filmed segments of performance.