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Kathakali-Kabuki workshop to be held in Japan

By Our Staff Reporter

THRISSUR, NOV. 7. A workshop to compare the similarities of the Japanese classical theatre art form Kabuki and Kerala's classical art Kathakali will be held in the Japanese towns of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in the second week of November.

This cultural exchange programme has been jointly organised by the performing arts study centre `Nadanakairali' based at Ammanur Chakiar Madhom in Irinjalakuda in the district and the Foundation for Modern Puppet Centre, Japan.

A team of artistes led by Venuji who is engaged in the study of Japanese theatre arts will leave for Japan on Monday to conduct the workshop. The Kathakali artistes V. P. Ramakrishnan Nair, Sadanam Krishnankutty and Margi Vijayan are part of the team.

First time

Mr Venuji told The Hindu here that even though there have been several discussions on the similarities between Kathakali and Kabuki it was for the first time a workshop of this nature is being conducted.

He said Kabuki which began in the 17th century is now considered as one of the world's greatest theatre traditions and through a magnificent blend of playacting, dance and music it offers an extraordinary spectacle combining form, colour and sound.

The term Kabuki connotes `out-of-the-ordinary' and `shocking' character and this art form was originally created by Okunni, a female temple dancer. The original light theatrical performance featuring dance and comic sketches was an all-women show in the beginning and its main attraction was the sensual dances. Some of the artistes also engaged in prostitution.

Banned

Later the performance featuring women was banned by the authorities because they were leading to public disturbances. Subsequently it was performed by men.

The presence of the male actors brilliantly presenting women characters is a speciality of Kabuki as is the case of Kathakali. Even though women partake in the modern Kabuki, it is still largely an art form of male performers.

Kathakali and Kabuki have many similarities. Stylised gestures, symbolic and exaggerated movements of body parts, colourful and dazzling costumes, elegantly designed wigs and make-ups and refined body movements are some of the common heritage of these classical art forms of Kerala and Japan.

Mr. Venuji said Kalanilayam Rajendran, Kalamandalam Jayaprakash, Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan, Kalanilayam Sankaran and Haridas are the other members of the team which will return on November 22.

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