Kutiyattam is widely acknowledged as the only living link to India's ancient theatrical tradition. While its origins are hazy, it is said to have an unbroken history of around two thousand years, combining old Sankrit theatre with the regional forms of Kerala. It has its own distinctive theatrical conventions and improvisations, with highly sophisticated facial expressions and a fluent vocabulary of gestures. Kutiyattam elaborates action by extending the performance score to heights of imaginative fancy. Ever since it ventured outside Kerala's temple-theatres in the 1950s, it has been appreciated by a wider circle of connoisseurs, and challenged by shifting systems of patronage. This book discusses the theory and practice of the art form and aims to introduce Kutiyattam to a larger readership. It includes the translation of the performance manual of 'Asokavanikanakam', from Saktibhadra's play "Ascharyachudamani", as an illustrative example.
Sudha Gopalakrishnan has studied India's traditional arts forms for three decades, especially the performing arts of Kerala. Her books include From the Comic to the Comedic Krishnagiti Nalacharitam and Kaikottikkalippattukal Sudha is a trained dancer of Kathakali and was the Vice President of Margi (Thiruvananthapuram). She was also the Founder Director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, which has led India's effort to source and place information on one million manuscripts on www.namami.org.She ha s be en a s soc i a ted wi t h UNESCO's intangible heritage stream as an expert, and has steered three successful nomination dossiers for India to UNESCO. This resulted in the proclamation of Kutiyattam, Vedic Chanting and Ramlila as 'Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity'.Currently, Sudha is President of the non-profit SAHA (Stirring Action on Heritage and the Arts). She is working to create Sahapedia, an online repository on Indian knowledge systems. She lives in New Delhi.