Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The annual KELI Theatre festival

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KELI is a Mumbai based Charitable organization striving to preserve, develop and propagate the classical and traditional cultural heritage of India. Keli has been active in this field from the past several years and during this period, has successfully handled a number of important projects in furtherance of its objectives. The annual Keli festivals, structured thematically every year, are well known to artists and art lovers of the City and have earned the organization a significant place in the cultural life of Mumbai.
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On its 22nd anniversary, Keli continues its commitment to preserving, developing and propagating the enormously exciting cultural heritage of India with a theatre festival dedicated to Chavittu Natakam. This is the first time this art form will be presented in Mumbai

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Keli Indigenous Theatre Festival 2014
(On Chavittu Natakam- India’s most ancient Maritime theatre Tradition)
9, 10, 11 January 2014

Human life is incomplete and impossible without cultural identity, which is the essence of human dignity. When migrants go to distant shores, they take along with them aspects of their culture, which then mixes in with the local cultures to create unique cultural expressions. Chavittu Natakam, India’s most ancient Maritime theatre tradition is a cultural expression which came out of such a mixing of cultures – drawing from the European operatic tradition carried by the Portugese Christian missionaries who came to Kerala’s shores post the 15th century, and mixing in with the local Kerala martial arts and dramatic traditions. Chavittu Natakam tells stories from Christian legend and uses western operatic costumes and aesthetic elements of European opera along with the facial abhinaya unique to Indian performance tradition. The form is further infused with influences from Kathakali and the martial traditions of Kerala. In fact, Chavittu Natakam means the rhythmic steps which accompany the recitation of the lines of the libretto, producing resonant sounds to accentuate dramatic situations. Foot-stamping dance, fighting and fencing are essential parts of Chavittu Natakam.
Chavittu Nätakam attributes great importance to the the performance manual, (Chuvati) which codifies everything from the rituals performed from the beginning of rehearsals up to the actual performance. The plays were probably written originally in Chentamil (ancient Tamil),  for the texts in circulation at present show a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. The Chuvatis are considered by Ãsãns (Masters) to be their personal property to be handed down orally through  heredity, and hence they are never shared with others or printed. The performers consider the traditional performance manual (chuvatis) as divine property and handle them  with utmost reverence.
The most celebrated play in this genre is undoubtedly Kãralmãn Nãtakam. The drama  focuses  on the heroism of the Emperor Charlemagne the great, his men and nephew legendary Roland. This story was popular in southern Europe up to the middle of the twentieth century.
Chavittu Naatakam has a significant place in the art history of the world.  A pattern of culture that migrated from across the sea; a theatre form that was nurtured and developed by the coastal people; a tradition of drama written, directed and enacted by the same coastal people; a theatre movement with performance spaces, created at the coastal villages from out of meagre donations collected from the villagers; an artistic emanation which draws its audiences from the same coastal people – Chavittu Natakam is truly the most authentic ancient maritime theatre tradition in every sense of the term. It is the only existing ancient maritime theatre  tradition in India which has survived for over five centuries. Unfortunately, no serious research or academic studies have been done on this fascinating art form so far, nor have academies and state patrons extended significant attention towards preserving  developing and propagating this tradition. The form lives on due to enthusiastic artists, passionate audience, and the support and dedication of a very few art lovers.
On its 22nd anniversary, Keli continues its commitment to preserving, developing and propagating the enormously exciting cultural heritage of India with a theatre festival dedicated to Chavittu Natakam. This is the first time this art form will be presented in Mumbai.
We cordially invite all art lovers of Mumbai to share the joy and excitement of this unique festival which presents in three parts, spread over three days, the valorous story of Emperor Karalman  (Charlemagne the great) who ruled over France in the 8th century A.D.
Ramachandran K
Festival Director


About Keli
KELI is a Mumbai based Charitable organization striving to preserve, develop and propagate the classical and traditional cultural heritage of India. Keli has been active in this field from the past several years and during this period, has successfully handled a number of important projects in furtherance of its objectives. The annual Keli festivals, structured thematically every year, are well known to artists and art lovers of the City and have earned the organization a significant place in the cultural life of Mumbai.

Festival Schedule

Day 1
Venue: Y.B.Chavan Centre, opp Mantralaya
Date: Thursday, 9th January 2014 | Time: 6.45 pm

Inaugural Program
Function
Felicitating Artists

Performance of Chavittu Natakam
Story: Karalman Charitham (Charelsmagne) Part 1
Written by : Chinnathambi Annavi
Presented by: Yuvajana Chavittunataka Kalasamithi Gothuruth
Directed by: Thampi Payyappilly

Synopsis
The participating artistes enter the stage and pay their obeisance to the Goddess Nature and the audience and narrate the story briefly. Then we move on to the court scene of the Emperor Charlemagne the great. After listening to news from the realm, Charlemagne sends a messager to Turkey with a message conveying his decision to wage a war with Turkey. Next is the court scene of the king of Turkey, Al Biranth. Charelsmagne’s messenger arrives and hands over the message  about the impending war to the king. Al Biranth holds consultations with his minister and the commander-in- chief of the army about the war. Emperor Charlemagne  after offering prayers to God, sets out with his army to  begin the war with Turkey.

Day 2
Venue: Y.B. Chavan auditorium,Opp. Mantralaya
Date: Friday, 10th Jan 2014 | Time : 7.30pm
Story: Karalman Charitham (Charelsmagne) Part 2

Synopsis
The participating artistes enter the stage and pay their obeisance to the Godess Nature and the audience and narrate the story briefly. Then comes the court scene of Al Biranth. Al Biranth’s son Perabras, angry at the defeat of his father at the hands of  Charlemagne, seeks permission from the king to fight against Charlemagne. Next is the court scene of Charlemagne. Charlemagne directs his nephew Roland to face Perabras who had arrived in France with his army. Roland in defiance of the king refuses to go to the war. Charlemagne who is already wounded in the earlier battle decides to go to war himself. A brave soldier of Charlemagne’s army, Oliver goes to the king and asks for his permission to go and fight against Perabras in order to protect the honour of the country. Pleased with the Oliver’s  self-confidence and patriotism, Charelsmagne gives him the permission asked for. Oliver faces Parabras in the battlefield. Oliver challenges Perabras for a duel with him. Perabras lifts his heavy armour off his chest and mockingly challenges Oliver to engage in a duel with him.


Day 3
Venue: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu, Vile Parle.
Date: 11th Jan 2014 | Time: 7pm and 9pm
Story: Karalman Charitham (Charelsmagne) Part 3 ( Subtext)
Name of Subtext: Story of Anjelikka
Written by : Raphel Acharuparambil
Presented by: St. Rocky’s  Nrutha Kalabhavan, Pallippuram
Directed by: Alex Thalooppaadath, disciple of late Guru Antony Charamkulam

Synopsis
Angelika is the beautiful and well-behaved daughter of Abdu Rahman, king of Turkey. The king’s sister, an astrologer, predicts that Angelika would be attracted to  and subjugated by someone belonging to the Christian faith. Abdurahman places Angelika under house arrest. Charlemagne’s nephew Roland hears about the beauty of Angelika and decides  to make her his own. Roland and his friend Richard discuss the strategy to achieve this. Roland makes a golden lion and takes  it stealthily  to Angelika’s room in the palace. Angelika realises the depth of Roland’s love for her and agrees to go with him to France. Roland frees her from house arrest and both of them leave for France.


(Free entry passes available at Y.B. Chavan centre, Rhythm House, Prithvi Theatre, Maharashtra Watch Company, Dadar and Giri stores Matunga from 6th Jan 2014.)

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