The traditional theatre type’s on-line experiments are bringing in additional viewers but additionally throwing up new challenges
From the koothambalam to the machine display screen, it has not been a simple transition for Koodiyattam, Kerala’s historic Sanskrit theatre type, to adapt itself to the brand new regular. Moreover its elaborate costume and heavy make-up, the artwork type is understood for its prolonged scenes, a whole 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.
Historically 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 web world to achieve out to the viewers. And so they have met with a good quantity of success.
Preliminary makes an attempt, primarily via Fb, within the fast aftermath of the lockdown have been born extra out of enthusiasm than certainty. However 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 dwell streaming that adopted had the most important influence, with each Koodiyattam and Kathakali, which attracts a comparatively bigger viewers, seeing a spike in views. Nepathya Moozhikkulam and Madhavamathrugramam, two fashionable Koodiyattam teams, say the suggestions has been extraordinarily encouraging.
Nepathya was maybe the primary off the blocks has introduced 12 dwell Koodiyattam and Nangiarkoothu performances and ten Chakyarkoothu periods since Might. In response to its artistic director, Margi Madhu, “I’m joyful concerning the growing viewership on-line. Our month-to-month programmes used to get solely a small viewers, however on Fb it’s being watched by a median of 40 folks. The movies of those performances, streamed later, have been garnering over 3,000 views. I consider our English subtitles have helped lengthen our attain outdoors India.”
Madhu, nevertheless, additionally has some issues. Although the standard of the video is nice, he isn’t proud of the audio high quality, particularly of the mizhavu drums. Bettering the usual of dwell streaming requires a tremendous set of apparatus, together with video digital camera, microphone with audio mixing machine, video switcher and encoder.
“However that might require enormous funding, which is tough within the current circumstances when the main focus is to assist artistes monetarily as a consequence of cancellation of occasions and festivals,” says Madhu.
Koodiyattam artiste Rajaneesh Chakyar of Madhavamathrugramam has tried solely Chakyarkoothu on-line until now. “Initially, we determined to attend it out. However because the lockdown was prolonged, we determined to check out the brand new medium. We transformed a room in our home right into a studio, put black backdrops, fitted LED lights, and used our cell cameras to shoot. We all know the standard isn’t ideally suited, so we’ve deliberate to spend money on higher tools.”
Regardless of the challenges, it’s the optimistic suggestions that has saved Rajaneesh going throughout this disaster. “For one, we get a bigger viewers as folks sit at dwelling and watch. Additionally, the video stays on the Fb web page, so anybody can return and watch it.” Sound is a matter for Rajaneesh too. “We tried collar mic for Koothu, a speech-intensive artwork type, however it will get reduce off intermittently after we transfer about on stage.”
The scene is a bit completely different in Kathakali. Right here it’s normally the organiser who arranges the venue. The final one month has seen a rise in dwell programmes, organised by numerous teams, however the streaming high quality has not been constant.
The appropriate atmosphere
Shaji Mullookkaaran, an IT skilled with a eager curiosity in artwork videography, says this is a chance to get the most recent expertise. Shaji confronts many issues in his work, from vivid, overpowering backdrops to unsuitable lighting and insufficient bandwidth. He says that organisers should pay extra consideration to those components reasonably than leaving every thing to the lighting contractor.
“They need to insist on a clear black background, PAR lights that may focus a slender beam and management brightness. They need to additionally guarantee high-speed fibre broadband. Going ahead, all venues should ideally present fibre connection. All these will add to the price however will lead to an excellent viewing expertise,” explains Shaji. He feels that on-line displays are right here to remain as extra folks have begun to get pleasure from watching programmes from the consolation of their properties.
Madhu agrees. He plans to proceed streaming even after Covid. “However first we have to improve our tools and sponsors may also help us do it,” he says.
It’s 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.
The writer, a retired journalist, writes on Kerala’s performing arts.