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Koodiyattam’s dramatic transition

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The historical theatre kind’s on-line experiments are bringing in additional viewers but in addition throwing up new challenges

From the koothambalam to the system display screen, it has not been a straightforward transition for Koodiyattam, Kerala’s historical Sanskrit theatre kind, to adapt itself to the brand new regular. Besides its elaborate costume and heavy make-up, the artwork kind is thought for its prolonged scenes, a whole play could also be staged in over 100 days and a single act in seven to 12 days with a efficiency length of three to 6 hours.

Traditionally carried out as a part of rituals in temples and later, on stage, Koodiyattam artistes, confronted with an unsure future within the wake of the pandemic, have been exploring the net world to succeed in out to the viewers. And they’ve met with a good quantity of success.

Initial makes an attempt, primarily by means of Facebook, within the fast aftermath of the lockdown had been born extra out of enthusiasm than certainty. But because the lockdown was prolonged, each artistes and cultural organisers stepped up their act with a stream of webinars, lec-dems and pre-recorded programmes.

The reside streaming that adopted had the most important impression, with each Koodiyattam and Kathakali, which attracts a comparatively bigger viewers, seeing a spike in views. Nepathya Moozhikkulam and Madhavamathrugramam, two well-liked Koodiyattam teams, say the suggestions has been extraordinarily encouraging.

Nepathya was maybe the primary off the blocks has introduced 12 reside Koodiyattam and Nangiarkoothu performances and ten Chakyarkoothu classes since May. According to its artistic director, Margi Madhu, “I am happy about the increasing viewership online. Our monthly programmes used to get only a small audience, but on Facebook it is being watched by an average of 40 people. The videos of these performances, streamed later, have been garnering over 3,000 views. I believe our English subtitles have helped extend our reach outside India.”

Technical glitches

Madhu, nonetheless, additionally has some issues. Though the standard of the video is nice, he isn’t pleased with the audio high quality, particularly of the mizhavu drums. Improving the usual of reside streaming requires a high quality set of apparatus, together with video digital camera, microphone with audio mixing system, video switcher and encoder.

“But that would require huge investment, which is difficult in the present circumstances when the focus is to help artistes monetarily due to cancellation of events and festivals,” says Madhu.

Koodiyattam artiste Rajaneesh Chakyar of Madhavamathrugramam has tried solely Chakyarkoothu on-line until now. “Initially, we decided to wait it out. But as the lockdown was extended, we decided to try out the new medium. We converted a room in our house into a studio, put black backdrops, fitted LED lights, and used our mobile cameras to shoot. We know the quality isn’t ideal, so we have planned to invest in better equipment.”

Despite the challenges, it’s the optimistic suggestions that has saved Rajaneesh going throughout this disaster. “For one, we get a larger audience as people sit at home and watch. Also, the video remains on the Facebook page, so anyone can go back and watch it.” Sound is a matter for Rajaneesh too. “We tried collar mic for Koothu, a speech-intensive art form, but it gets cut off intermittently when we move about on stage.”

The scene is a bit totally different in Kathakali. Here it’s often the organiser who arranges the venue. The final one month has seen a rise in reside programmes, organised by numerous teams, however the streaming high quality has not been constant.

The proper atmosphere

Shaji Mullookkaaran, an IT skilled with a eager curiosity in artwork videography, says this is a chance to get the most recent know-how. Shaji confronts many issues in his work, from brilliant, overpowering backdrops to unsuitable lighting and insufficient bandwidth. He says that organisers should pay extra consideration to those components somewhat than leaving the whole lot to the lighting contractor.

“They must insist on a clean black background, PAR lights that can focus a narrow beam and control brightness. They should also ensure high-speed fibre broadband. Going forward, all venues must ideally provide fibre connection. All these will add to the cost but will result in a good viewing experience,” explains Shaji. He feels that on-line displays are right here to remain as extra folks have begun to get pleasure from watching programmes from the consolation of their properties.

Madhu agrees. He plans to proceed streaming even after Covid. “But first we need to upgrade our equipment and sponsors can help us do it,” he says.

It is time artwork lovers, company entities and the federal government got here collectively to take Koodiyattam, the two,000-year-old Sanskrit theatre recognised by UNESCO as one of many ‘Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’, and Kathakali, an artwork kind synonymous with Kerala, to the following stage.

The creator, a retired journalist, writes on Kerala’s performing arts.



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