about » Nepathya
(Centre for Excellence in Kudiyattam)
Nepathya is a centre for excellence in Kudiyattam, operating since 1998 in the village of Muzhikkulam in central Kerala. Muzhikkulam is one of the major sites for Kudiyattam, which has flourished there for several generations. Many famous Chakyars belonging to the Ammanoor tradition were based in this village, to which the family migrated from its original home in Koppam (Malabar). Having inherited this legacy, Nepathya functions as one of the prime centers of Kudiyattam, which is taught, performed and preserved in traditional format, emphasizing the basic and characteristic aspects of this ancient art form.
Other fields of interest are: basic research into the history and evolution of the art form; conceptualization and performance of new texts; and re-creation of old Kudiyattam performances no longer current. The conceptualization process includes the literary study of the text, together with the study of its language and grammar; creating an aattaprakaram (performance text); rehearsing and performing. The focus of this process is on the acting potential, avoiding disturbance to the poetic and dramatic beauty of the text. Development of new performance texts, design of costumes (aaharya) and music, and documentation of the whole process will undoubtedly influence the performance scenario of Kudiyattam in the coming years.
Accordingly, in collaboration with the International centre for Kudiyattam, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kalady, Nepathya has revived and enacted the following works: Kamsavadham prabandham, Karnnabharam, Doothaghatotkacham and Kanchukeeyam, performances which were well received by critics and connoisseurs of Kudiyattam. Other artistic events were the adaptation and performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth into Kudiyattam, and a six-week appreciation course in Kudiyattam for local people in Muzhikkulam. All the while, Nepathya has been performing in different parts of Kerala, elsewhere in India and abroad. In January 2009 the troupe performed in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University. Every year Nepathya presents an award to a young artist in the field of Kudiyattam and Kathakali in the name of D. Appukkuttan Nair, a great scholar of Kudiyattam and the founder of the Margi theatre in Trivandrum, Kerala.
The Mukhya Aacharya (prime-master) of the institution was the famous Kudiyattam artist Padmasree Guru Moozhikkulam Kochukuttan Chakyar, who was the torch bearer of the Ammannoor style of acting in the last century, together with his cousin – Padmabhooshan Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar. Today the center is headed by Kochukuttan Chakyar's disciple and son, Margi Madhu, an important practicing Kudiyattam artist who continues the Ammanur tradition and style. Madhu has participated and presented papers in International Seminars and published articles and books on Kudiyattam. He has traveled and performed both in India and abroad, including Japan, USA, Singapore, Germany, France, Italy, the UK, etc. Madhu's wife, Dr. Indu G., is a leading young Kudiyattam actress, who has written her Ph. D. on the topic of Kudiyattam in the department of Malayalam in the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kalady, Kerala. In her articles, Indu connects literature and performance. She is one of the only performers to have performed Sreekrishnacharitham in full. The center also includes three Mizhavu drummers: Kalamandalam Ratheesh Bhas, Kalamandalam Anoop, Kalamandalam Manikandan; one edakka artist – Kalanilayam Rajan; one Make-up (chutti) artist –Kalamandalam Satheesan; one senior male acting student – Nepathya Saneesh; four junior male acting student: Nepathya Yadukrishnan, Nepathya Vishnuprasad, Nepathya Rahul, Nepathya Sreehari. M. Chakyar; one junior female acting student – Nepathya Anjana; one senior mizhavu student – Nepathya Jinesh; and one junior Mizhavu student –Nepathya Aswin.
Nepathya's current interest is in full depth performances, now rare in Kerala; we aim to enact at least one full performance a year, after training the disciples for such performances. Sharing this vision, Nepathya has been collaborating with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem since 2008. This connection has allowed the full enactment of the following acts: Asokavanikaankam, Mayasitaankam and Balivadham, and produced a scholarly and creative interchange of thoughts. Nepathya believes that performing Kudiyattam without compromising with the mechanical changes of the modern world order is a mode of resistance to violence of any kind.