Chapter

Representing the <i>Rāmāyaṇa</i> on the <i>Kūṭiyāṭṭam</i> Stage

Mandakranta Bose

in The Ramayana Revisited

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195168327
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835362 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195168321.003.0010
 Representing the Rāmāyaṇa on the Kūṭiyāṭṭam Stage

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This chapter examines innovations in both plot construction and gender representation with regard to the kūtiyāţtam theater of Kerala, in which three classical Sanskrit plays feature prominently. All of them depart from Valmiki's text and are tailored to the unique features of the kūtiyāţtam style of acting, which affect the representation of the story. In this style of performance, which can be traced back to the 10th century, characters mimic the mental states and actions of other characters across lines of gender and species (such as Ravana enacting Sītā's moods, or Hanumān enacting Rāma's), whereby gender identities in particular are loosened. It is shown how the kūtiyāţtam performance tradition transforms the plot of the epic and challenges the audience with complex, multiple-identity characters.

Keywords: Rāmāyana; kūtiyāţtam; plays; Sanskrit

Chapter.  7352 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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