Ten plays from a wide spectrum of themes will be presented at the five-day festival.
For many years, theatre practitioners in the city have been complaining about the conspicuous absence of a quality performing space.
Attempts to convert the land granted to the P.J. Antony Foundation at Pachalam to develop such a space have not materialised.
But Natakakalam (Theatre Time), the impressive festival of 10 plays from a wide spectrum of themes and presentation, promises to bring the missing vibrancy back to the theatre scene here.
The festival organised jointly by District Administration, District Tourism Promotion Council and Act (A Centre for Theatre) is being held at Durbar Hall Grounds.
Natakakalam is featuring plays picked up from as diverse genres and treatments as possible to represent a cross section of contemporary theatre.
The festival kicks off on January 26 with Kallurutti, the play by theatre maestro Kavalam Narayana Panikker. Written and directed by Mr. Panikker in 2001, the play is based on a legend in currency among the Mavilon tribal community of North Kerala.
The second day will feature Suddhikalasam, the 57 play of KPAC (Kerala People’s Arts Club), which redefined the Malayalam commercial theatre scene with plays which were strongly flavoured with social and political messages.
Koonan, another unique experiment, is next on the list at the festival.
Written and directed by Jayaprakash Kuloor, Koonan is a one-actor play that Manjulan has presented in more than 500 stages within the country and abroad.
It was premiered at the Soorya Festival in 2003. The same day (August 28) will have one more production, Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku, which will take a quantum leap back in time.
The play marked the beginning of the social reforms in Kerala society, especially among the Namboodiri community, when it was presented in December 1929.
The original play by V.T. Bhattathiripad was seven hours long.
The play has been adapted to the contemporary stage by K.A. Nandajan with a performance time of 70 minutes. The festival on August 29 will start with Panchali Sapadham Therukoothu, directed by P.K. Sambandam and presented by Puraiduraiswami Kannappa Thampiran Paramparai Therukoothu Sangham, Madurai.
The play is firmly rooted in the folk theatre tradition of Tamil theatre.
The performance will be followed by a new representation of G. Sankara Pillai’s play Etho Chirakadiyochakal, which is directed by Sam George for Apt, Thiruvananthapuram.
August 30 will have After the Silence, directed by Martin John C. for Sadhana Thrissur and presented by Martin along with Chilean theatre person Valeria Oleguin and Vaidehi Parayunnathu, written by Vinod Mekkoth and directed by K.K. Purushothaman.
Vaidehi Parayunnathu won the first prize in the competition for short plays by Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi in 2012.
The last day of the festival will have a short play based on Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s story Janmadinam, the play written by M.S. Ashraf and directed by Sahir Ali will be followed by the play Mazhappattu, written by Jayaprakash Kuloor and directed by Manjulan.
An interactive session with directors of the plays presented on the previous day will be held during the festival.
Natakakalam is being organised as part of Lavanyam, the Onam celebrations of the District Administration.