Ravana will be centre stage at the four-day Natya Ravanan-Kuttiyattam Festival of Kerala, which begins at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram from December 6. Myriad facets of the king and warrior will be explored through the traditional dance-theatre forms of Kerala such as Koodiyattam, Nangiarkoothu and Koothu.
“There are several episodes on Ravana that are performed in the traditional theatre froms. Every day leading artistes will present these episodes. From 10am to 9pm, there will be Mizhavu Thayampaka, Koodiyattam, Nangiarkoothu and Prabandhakoothu,” says Ettumanoor P Kannan, project director of Kutiyattam Kendra under the Sangeeth Natak Akademi, New Delhi.
For instance, on the first day of the festival, Kalamandalam Sangeetha stages Ascharyachoodamani and Ashokavanikankam Nangiarkoothu, which delves into the mindscape of Mandodari, Ravana’s wife, and her turmoil. Post-lunch Ammannur Rajaneesh Chakyar presents Mahaveeracharitham-Act III, which is on a conversation between Ravana and Mandodari.
Kannan explains that Ascharyachoodamani will be interpreted by three performers in addition to Sangeetha. Aparna Nangiar, Painkulam Rama Chakyar Smaraka Kalapeedam and Kalamandalam Jishnu Pratap will present different acts from the same play. City-based Margi will also present Ascharyachoodamani and Ashokavanikankam at 5pm on the first day.
“We have culled several famous episodes on Ravana from leading plays in Koodiyattam for this festival. However, Kalamandalam Girija Devi has choreographed a new one, Kaikasi, in Nangiarkoothu. It is based on a story on Ravana’s mother Kaikasi and how Ravana decides to do penance to acquire power to please his mother,” explains Kannan. Kaikasi Nangiarkoothu will be presented by her on December 9.
Sandhya Purecha, chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi, inaugurates the fete at 3 pm on December 6.
Natya Ravanan is open to the public. Synopsis of the story will be given to the audience and an elaborate sub-text of the all performances will be projected on screen during the recital to enable the audience to understand and appreciate the act.