The ancient art form's mudras and expressions were explained at workshop
After the UNESCO recognised Koodiyattom as a ‘Masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity' in 2001, the common man too started taking interest in the art form and its popularity grew. To ensure that it reaches a still wider audience, a lecture demonstration on the basics of Kerala's oldest Sanskrit theatre was organised in the city on Sunday. The workshop was a joint initiative of Margi, Drishyavedi, Koodiyattom Kendra, and Samskrithi.
Led by Koodiyattom exponent Margi Usha, the workshop focussed on explaining to the layman the mudras and expressions used in the art form. Since Koodiyattom gives importance to the actor's body movements, gestures, and facial expressions, it is necessary to have an idea of mudras and the eye movements to appreciate it. Usually, the layman has difficulty comprehending the mudras. Ms. Usha explained the main mudras along with their meanings and also gave short performances.
Most often, a single act from Sanskrit plays is enacted for hours. “To understand the gamut of expressions of the performers, one needs to be put in a little effort. But it is not difficult,” she said. If people made an effort to understand Koodiyattom's theatrical conventions and methods of acting, they would be able to enjoy it better, she added.
The audience also wanted to know the differences between Kathakali and Koodiyattom performances. Many said they were able to enjoy Kathakali better way. She explained that unlike Kathakali which has a padha-artha-abhinaya concept, the music used in Koodiyattom is based on Vedic chanting in the Sanskrit form. “Reading texts and trying to understand the form will be futile,” said Ms. Usha.
Changes have crept into this ancient art form too. With wide recognition, people try to mould the art to suit the modern world. “A few changes have been made in gestures and body movements for women performers as well as in the costumes,” she said. “People have become aware of the changes. From a traditional theatre art done strictly inside the temple, Koodiyattom has become more open. It is an actor's theatre with great importance given to the abhinayas and hence has diverse possibilities for interpretations,” said Ms. Usha.