A rare performance of Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre
“…beyond anything that I can describe or paraphrase, that I carry with me still, weeks after the performance came to an end…” —David Shulman, The New York Review of Books
Kutiyattam is the oldest surviving form of ancient Sanskrit theatre. It is a visually arresting, percussion-driven dance theatre that has been performed for more than a thousand years in the temples of Kerala, the lush coastal state in southern India. Carefully preserved and passed on by communities of traditional performers for over ten centuries, Kutiyattam has been declared by UNESCO as a ‘masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’.
The world-renowned Nepathya troupe brings this ornate and mesmerizing piece of cultural heritage to Western Canada for the first time, as part of the 17th World Sanskrit Conference, hosted by UBC Asian Studies in collaboration with Indian Summer Festival. They will present an adaptation of Bali-vadham, a pivotal episode from the timeless Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Traditionally, this production could go on for a week or longer, but it has been adapted for the modern stage to a three-hour performance in Sanskrit with English subtitles.
All through the performance is the thundering presence of the mizhavu drums, a character in themselves, at times whispering, at times roaring, creating a sonic landscape against which the actors perform their delicate and subtle hand, face and eye gestures. This is a rare chance to witness what is perhaps the world’s oldest living theatrical tradition, performed by master practitioners of the art.
Come early for an introductory talk at 7pm by Prof. Dr. Heike Oberlin who will give an introduction to the complex techniques of this ancient theatre (included in your ticket).
Full venue description and accessibility information: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
This event is presented by UBC Asian Studies as part of the World Sanskrit Conference and Indian Summer Festival with support from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Consulate General of India, Vancouver, as well as UBC Faculty of Arts and SSHRC.
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