Students will understand their Kathakali lessons better after they watch them in action.

Learning Kathakali verses is a challenge for Std X students of the Kerala syllabus every year. Though the small sequence from ‘Nalacharitam Randam Divasam' titled ‘Kali Varuthivacha Vina' is an important part of the Malayalam syllabus, most students end up mugging up the verses without understanding the meaning or depth. The Malayalam teachers in most cases fail to give a proper picture of the genre and the levels they transform to when performed. Some Kathakali schools in Kozhikode have come up to bridge this gap.

Workshop

Navarasam Public Charitable Trust is an organisation devoted to popularising Kathakali among the younger generation. Navarasa, during its second anniversary celebrations, to be held from September 9 to 12, is taking up the mission of giving a complete idea of the Kathakali lessons to the students through a performance-oriented workshop.

On September 11, artistes from Navarasam will explain the sequence to Std X students from Zamorin's High School, Achyuthan Girls High School, Azhchavattam Government High School, Menchanda N.S.S. High School and Chinmaya Mission School on the stage set at Zamorin's High School. The sequence will feature three characters — Dwaparan, Indran and Kali. The artistes will explain the background of the sequence as well as various features of a typical Kathakali performance like ‘Chutti' (make up), ‘Keli' (heralding music), Mudras (actions) and Navarasas (expressions). The students shall witness a live performance of the sequence in their syllabus and also interact with noted Kathakali artistes of the state on the occasion.

Managing Trustee of Navarasam, Renuka Varma, said that more than 800 students from five schools will attend the workshop. At the end of the workshop, there will be a test for the students in which they have to answer 25 objective-type questions on Kathakali. Prizes will be given to the highest scores, and to schools for best participation, she said.

Through dance

Besides students of Std X, those from Std XI, B.A. Malayalam and M.A. Malayalam will also get to watch their lessons being performed. The Std XI Malayalam syllabus contains the complete ‘Keechakavadham' by Irayimman Thambi while B.A. Malayalam students have another sequence from ‘Nalacharitam Randam Divasam' featuring Damayanthi and Kattalan to learn. M.A. Malayalam students however have the entire Nalacharitam (four days) in their syllabus. All these will be performed and discussed for the benefit of students during the four day programme.

Ms. Varma said that only a nominal fee is charged from the students to participate in the workshop, while students from poor financial back ground are given free entry. Navarasam plans to continue with the programme even after the anniversary celebrations. Schools interested in giving practical Kathakali lessons to their students can approach Navarasam.

Meanwhile, the Kathakali Vidyalayam in Cheliya near Koyilandi has also come up with a project to give Kathakali lessons to school students, as part of its ‘School theatre programme'.