The Ancient Theatre Form’s Online Experiments Are Bringing In More Viewers But Also Throwing Up New Challenges

From the koothambalam to the gadget display, it has not been a simple transition for Koodiyattam, Kerala’s historical Sanskrit theatre type, to adapt itself to the brand new regular. Besides its elaborate costume and heavy make-up, the artwork type is thought for its prolonged scenes, a complete play could also be staged in over 100 days and a single act in seven to 12 days with a efficiency period of three to 6 hours.

Traditionally carried out as a part of rituals in temples and later, on stage, Koodiyattam artistes, confronted with an unsure future within the wake of the pandemic, have been exploring the net world to succeed in out to the viewers. And they’ve met with a good quantity of success.

Initial makes an attempt, primarily by means of Facebook, within the quick aftermath of the lockdown have been born extra out of enthusiasm than certainty. But because the lockdown was prolonged, each artistes and cultural organisers stepped up their act with a stream of webinars, lec-dems and pre-recorded programmes.

The stay streaming that adopted had the largest affect, with each Koodiyattam and Kathakali, which pulls a comparatively bigger viewers, seeing a spike in views. Nepathya Moozhikkulam and Madhavamathrugramam, two standard Koodiyattam teams, say the suggestions has been extraordinarily encouraging.

Nepathya was maybe the primary off the blocks has offered 12 stay Koodiyattam and Nangiarkoothu performances and ten Chakyarkoothu periods since May. According to its inventive director, Margi Madhu, “I am happy about the increasing viewership online. Our monthly programmes used to get only a small audience, but on Facebook it is being watched by an average of 40 people. The videos of these performances, streamed later, have been garnering over 3,000 views. I believe our English subtitles have helped extend our reach outside India.”

Technical Glitches

Madhu, nevertheless, additionally has some considerations. Though the standard of the video is sweet, he isn’t pleased with the audio high quality, particularly of the mizhavu drums. Improving the usual of stay streaming requires a high quality set of apparatus, together with video digicam, microphone with audio mixing gadget, video switcher and encoder.

“But that would require huge investment, which is difficult in the present circumstances when the focus is to help artistes monetarily due to cancellation of events and festivals,” says Madhu.

Koodiyattam artiste Rajaneesh Chakyar of Madhavamathrugramam has tried solely Chakyarkoothu on-line until now. “Initially, we decided to wait it out. But as the lockdown was extended, we decided to try out the new medium. We converted a room in our house into a studio, put black backdrops, fitted LED lights, and used our mobile cameras to shoot. We know the quality isn’t ideal, so we have planned to invest in better equipment.”

Despite the challenges, it’s the optimistic suggestions that has stored Rajaneesh going throughout this disaster. “For one, we get a larger audience as people sit at home and watch. Also, the video remains on the Facebook page, so anyone can go back and watch it.” Sound is a matter for Rajaneesh too. “We tried collar mic for Koothu, a speech-intensive art form, but it gets cut off intermittently when we move about on stage.”

The scene is a little bit completely different in Kathakali. Here it’s often the organiser who arranges the venue. The final one month has seen a rise in stay programmes, organised by numerous teams, however the streaming high quality has not been constant.

The Right Ambience

Shaji Mullookkaaran, an IT skilled with a eager curiosity in artwork videography, says this is a chance to get the newest know-how. Shaji confronts many issues in his work, from brilliant, overpowering backdrops to unsuitable lighting and insufficient bandwidth. He says that organisers should pay extra consideration to those elements reasonably than leaving every little thing to the lighting contractor.

“They must insist on a clean black background, PAR lights that can focus a narrow beam and control brightness. They should also ensure high-speed fibre broadband. Going forward, all venues must ideally provide fibre connection. All these will add to the cost but will result in a good viewing experience,” explains Shaji. He feels that on-line displays are right here to remain as extra individuals have begun to get pleasure from watching programmes from the consolation of their properties.

Madhu agrees. He plans to proceed streaming even after Covid. “But first we need to upgrade our equipment and sponsors can help us do it,” he says.

It is time artwork lovers, company entities and the federal government got here collectively to take Koodiyattam, the two,000-year-old Sanskrit theatre recognised by UNESCO as one of many ‘Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’, and Kathakali, an artwork type synonymous with Kerala, to the following degree.


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