Popular Music Theater of Rural Tamilnadu – KattaiKuttu or Therukoothu

Kattaikkuttu is the University of the People, who cannot write and read (too well). It is our theatre and our culture. Kattaikkuttu is apopular musical theatre of the rural poor in North Tamil Nadu, India. It is Closely linked to the agrarian cycle & seasonal rituals. It is an embodiment of a vast, living, oral legacy. Now Under threat of extinction because of the rapid industrialization of the country side.

Interested in knowing more or watching this program Live? Read on…

Kattaikkuttu is Tamil Nadu’s rich, complex, ritual, Tamil language theatre involving voice, body and mind. All-night performances require the performers to build a character through songs, dialogue, acting, dance and facial expression and bring to live well-known epic stories. Kattaikkuttu performances combine open-throated singing, verbal virtuosity, vigorous dance and powerful acting with hilarious comedy and a Shakespearean richness and depth of stories.

Kattaikkuttu is the theatre of the rural people in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu, India. It speaks their language and is acted by performers who share similar social and cultural backgrounds with the spectators.

Kattaikkuttu uses song, music, dance, make-up and costumes, drama and ritual. All-night performances are powerful, high-energy, intense and long duration events that temporarily recreate the mythical world of kings, gods and sages on earth. The stirring quality of the music, the actors’ singing and their passionate embodiment of mighty mythological characters keep local audiences spellbound. All-night performances are intense events. Their rootedness in rural Hinduism can trigger emotional responses in spectators and performers causing some of them to fall into trance-like states at particularly dramatic moments in the story.

Most traditional Kattaikkuttu performances are based on selected episodes from the epic Mahabharata adapted to the local situation. Plays feature universal emotions and dilemmas of valour, jealousy, hatred, love, grief and despair, loyalty to one’s family and friends, and folly.

Theatre’s name

The theatre derives its name from the special ornaments called kattai or kattai camankal. Kattai ornaments are typically worn by heroic male characters, such as kings, gods and demons. These ornaments represent the heroic qualities, power and royal status of the wearers. They consist of head, shoulder and breast ornaments made of wood and inlaid with mirrors or decorated with coloured paper. The kattai lay down the entrance of a character on the stage behind a curtain and determine the character’s movements and dramatic behaviour.

The kattai ornamentation and the elaborate make-up that goes with it distinguish Kattaikkuttu from other theatre genres popular in Tamil Nadu and in South India.

Kattaikkuttu is also known as Terukkuttu or street (teru/theru) theatre (kuttu/kuthu). Kattaikoothu, Therukoothu and Terukoothu are alternative ways to spell the theatre’s name. Among urban theatre workers and academics there is an ongoing debate about the name by which the theatre should be called.

To know more details about kattaikuttu visit http://www.kattaikkuttu.org

Live Program Details

Kattaikkuttu Young Professional Company
“Trupurakkali”, an all night play

Directed by P Rajagopal
Adaptation fromRabindranath Tagore’s “Bisarjan”


February 17,  Timing : All night


Open air stage

Kuttu Kalai Kudam
36, Punjarasatankal Village,
(8 km from Kanchipuram Town (off the kancheepuram – vandavasi Road)

Contact: 044-2724 2044 for more details

Posted on February 14, 2012, in Art, Attractions, Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. BEATINGS.. wow they are like ELIXIR

  2. Very Interesting..thanks for the info

  3. vilvanathan.m

    Anakku kattai kuthu LA romba interest But nanu army LA erukkan eannala kathuka mudiyala plz help me” valga kattaikuthu”

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