Traditional South Indian Theater

Kumily, India


The day after our spice tour, Sanish took me to see a performance of Kathakali, which is traditional Indian theater.  I arrived at the theater an hour early, so that I could watch the actors getting dressed.  

Kathakali is similar to a lot of forms of traditional theater in that men play the women's roles, since it was historically prohibited for women to perform on stage.  I was so enthusiastic and excited about the play that I decided to get in costume, too!


Just kidding...I'm not that culturally insensitive.  India gives me dry skin, so I did a facial mask that morning, then contemplated leaving it on until Sanish arrived to pick me up.  He was so nice, I can't even begin to imagine what he would have said.

Poor Sanish.

The actors were incredibly talented.  All the parts are non-speaking, but emotions are expressed through the music and the actors' facial expressions.  I can't even begin to imagine how long the princess took to prepare for his role, since his face twitched subtly throughout the entire performance.  A narrator stood onstage and explained all of the princess's facial expressions, and I've included a brief guide in the photos below.

At the end of the performance, everyone in the audience went up onstage and took pictures with the actors.  I really wanted a picture, but I was too nervous to ask for one.  Even though the play was a small, local production, they were all so talented that I felt rather starstruck.

Sanish finally talked me into going to get a photo, though, and I smiled like an idiot while they actors very patiently indulged me.

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