Amid pandemic, traditional art of ‘talamaddale’ goes digital

A performance of the variant of Yakshagana theatre was streamed live on social media on June 13

June 15, 2020 10:54 pm | Updated June 16, 2020 11:57 am IST - Mangaluru

The virtual ‘talamaddale’ was held on June 13.

The virtual ‘talamaddale’ was held on June 13.

The traditional art of ‘talamaddale’, a variant of Yakshagana theatre, too has gone virtual in times of COVID-19. A performance was streamed live on social media on June 13 and more such are in store.

Vasudeva Ranga Bhat, the artiste who enacted the role of Rama in an episode of Ramayana performed from Udupi, while his counterpart Sripada Hegde, who played the part of Lakshmana, was in California in the U.S. Another artist Ganapathi Bhat Sankadagundi, who was Bharata, was in Mysuru. The musicians — Anantha Hegde Dantalige, the ‘bhagavatha’ (singer-cum-director), and Ganapathi Bhagvat Kavale, the ‘maddale’ player — were in Yellapur in Uttara Kannada.

Two hours

The episode titled ‘Paduka Pradhana’ was streamed live for more than two hours from 8.45 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook using a virtual meeting app. The hosts were Sanathana Yaksha Ranga Cultural Centre and Northern California Havyaka Group.

COVID-19 and lockdown have forced artists of different streams to explore digital platforms and social media to reach out to art lovers. ‘Talamaddale’, an ancient art form, is not an exception.

Unlike the Yakshagana performance, in the conventional ‘talamaddale,’ the artists sit across in a place without any costumes and engage in testing their oratory skills based on the episode chosen. If music is common for both Yakshagana performance and ‘talamaddale’, the latter has only spoken word without any dance or costumes. Hence it is an art form minus dance, costumes and stage conventions.

Under the changed circumstances due to the lockdown, many Yakshagana artists and Yakshagana-related organisations are hosting the virtual ‘talamaddale’ live programmes on the Facebook, YouTube since past over a fortnight. Their links are shared on social media platforms, including on WhatsApp, leading the art lovers to enjoy them on their mobile phones.

Virtual live streaming is not a new trend in case of Yakshagana performance. But for ‘talamaddale’ it is and catching up. If some used virtual meeting apps and then streamed it live on social media, many others streamed the conventional ‘talamaddale’ (where all artists had a ‘baithak’ in a place) live on social media.

A senior ‘arthadhari’ (‘talamaddale’ artist who is an orator) Radhakrishna Kalchar told The Hindu that in virtual ‘talamaddale’ an ‘arthadhari’ will have to speak keeping the wider audience in mind. The audience comprised both who are familiar with the art form and those who are not.

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