Like everyone else we were struck down by covid and had to put everything on hold. Schools were shut to the general public, museums and theatres closed nd travel impossible.
We spent the time preparing fro when we came out of lockdown and could start of Life Behind the Costume heritage project in Croydon.
Kalamandalam Vijayakumar launched the first digital, interactive dictionary of Kathakali sign language - www.kathakalimudras.com
Life behind the Costume - exhibition - workshops and performances
We delivered our project including performances, workshops and three exhibitions at Archbishop Lanfranc Academy, Norbury Library and The Museum of Croydon. We provided performances and workshops in Kathakali, led by Kalamandalam Vijayakumar, Bharatanatyam, led by Anusha Subramanyam, and Chenda [drumming] led by Vinod Navadhara featuring artists from Sangeetha and MAUK.
The workshops were enjoyed by audiences attending events at Subrang Arts, Archbishop Lanfranc Academy, Museum of Croydon, Norbury Library and the Museum of Croydon.
To complete the exerience Kerala food, arranged by Chenda artist - Prakash Ramaswarmy, was served at the performances in the Museum of Croydon. The Chenda Melam provided by Sageetha and MAUK artists at the Museum of Croydon brought the sounds of Kerala into the exhibition.
The exhibition at the Museum of Croydon was so popular that the museum extended the exhibition from 3 weeks to 4 months.
Through the exhibition people were able to discover the culture of Kerala, view in detail the Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam costumes, traditional dress of Kerala, films and photographs. Exlpore the Handling Box to feel the weight, texture, sound and shape of sections of the Kathakali costumes.
Photo credit Rolf Killius
Kathakali in festivals around the UK
Kathakali also performed at The Glasgow Mela and festivals in Walsall, Chesterfield and Croydon.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
A meetings with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London agreed on how to document our Kathakali costumes in preparation for when they are donated to the museum. This will ensure that Kathakali will be represented in one of the most famous museum for costumes in the world and that they will remain safe for future generations to see.
In Kerala south India
We are presently in Kerala, south India, documentung the Kathakali costumes, performing in temples, giving workshops in schools and writing a book about My Journey Overland to India that I took in 1972. I have been told that I must write this book by so many people over the years and now I am finally getting round to it.
Below is a drawing that I did from a train window as I travelled from north India to south India and I first saw the beautiful coconut trees. I felt as if I was arriving in paradise.
NOTE: If you can not understand the Kathakali gestures - Kalamandalam Vijayakumar is providing free lessons online please visit https://kathakalimusdras.com