Workshop Comments

The workshops explore how an actor tells a story through, gesture, emotion and characters.

Our Kathakali development workshops incorporate new exciting areas of study to include Kathakali into music, Kathakali into abstract performance art, creative face painting, Kathakali masks and costume conservation, 

For child protecting full names are not shown.

Eggar`s School, Alton

1st May 2024.


Comments from the class teacher - Jackie Clarke


What do the group enjoy?

Time & space - they enjoyed learning about the history and a new [sign] language. 


Did the workshop support world culture and heritage?

Yes - the students had no idea about the country where Kathakali originated or the language used in this titual/performance - definately raised their awareness.


Did kathakali encourage a greater understanding of the traditions and people of different cultural backgrounds?

Yes - it was fascinating to learn about this, the students felt inspired and priviledged.


Any other comments;

The students were interested in learning how long it had taken to develop the Kathakali skills.

More on the dedication and time this would take to develop would be interesting and possibly encouage the students to be more resilient when things get tough!.



Thank you for the feed back and for the points raised. We will emfasis the time and devotion required in our furtue workshops. 


Comments from the children

I really enjoyed the workshop as it opened my eyes to how your face and hands can work together to convey a deeper meaning. - Jack

It was very interesting to learn and you gave me an insight into a new culture. - Maddie.

It was a brilliant experience and I loved it. - Cerys.

Overall it was a good experience. It is an interesting and effective way to show emotion and to communicate in a different way. - Ellwood.

It was amazing to experience different cultures and to learn something so in depth. I loved it. - Hazlel.

I found Kathakali very interesting to learn about. I am now able to understand an few words in sign langugae and even perform a  few words in a sentence. - Elisha.

Very fun & interesting. It was nice learning a second form of communication & the culture of Southern India. - Sebastian.

I loved it! It was cool and interesting to see a differenmt style of acting /dance. VJ was very impressive and presented and taught very well.- George.

It was pretty cool and VJ did very weird but interesting facial expressions. - Riley.

I found the meaning behind Kathakali very inspiring and the sign language very interesting. - Abl.

It was a good experience. - Sophie.

I really enjoyed how fun & engaging the class/workshop was. I found it very relaxing & theraputic. It was extreem fun. VJ - I think you are very talented. - Oscar

I really enjoyed the drama you taught me as I thought it was very interesting as well as the culture it orginated from. - Joshua.

I think the workshop was eye opening and an experience that I`ll remember for a long time. It was fun as it was difficult to understand. - Alfie.

I found this experience really interesting and eye-opening to different cultures and dramas. I am very happy about what this workshop was able to show me. - Mollie

I thought it was very educational and an interesting experience run by a very warm and friendly pair who made us all feel very comfortable. - Phoebe.

I though the worklshop was a fun experience, and I learnt lots about Kathakali`s interesting culture. - India. 

It was an incredible experience and so interesting to learn about the culture. I learnt a lot and was very insightful. - Lucy. 

I found it super interesting to learn about the facial expressions and how long VJ spent perfecting them. I would love to do the workshop again!.- Lucy. 



Petersfield Museum

23rd April 2024



Kathakali constume conservation workshop and solo performance. 


Very interesting day.

Wonderful fabrics and effects

Very friendly people 

Diana Wallingsgrove.



Very informative and so interesting, thank you for a wonderful insight into Kathakali, made me want to find out more. 

Allison McWamora.


Splendid professional informative team.

Thank you to everyone for bringing this experience to the Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery.

Look forward to seeing the display [exhibition] at The Phoenix theatre and Arts Centre, Bordon, Hants. [23rd Oct - 30th Nov 2024]

Frances Press



A wonderful day, made very welcome and a great interactive day.

Such a privalige to whitness everything, especially the performance. Thank you.

Lorraine Bain


A very interesting and enjoyable day.


Lynn Battersby-Vogt


A very interesting workshop, the history of Kerala and culture of southern India.

I really enjoyed the "hands on", the decoration.

The makeup was very intricate and their knowledge is second to none.

Kathay Carline



A very entertaining session.

Lovely craft, informative.

V&A Jane [guest speaker from the V&S] excellent.

Solo performance wa sepic.

Thoroughly wonderful day.


Sarah Bawtree.







28th NOVEMBER 2022

Respected Principal, teachers, our chief guests and all my dear friends,

Today I am very happy and I feel great in front of you maam. First of all thank you so much for the demonstration class. As a Kathakali artist you gave us so much valuable information about the art form of Kathakali. I . And thank you for making our studies more easy and beautiful. I am studying in 10th class. We have a Malayalam lesson based on Kathakali, called "Pralobhanam" Your class helped us form a better understanding of our lessons.

Once again thank you maam and sir. Lakshmi K 10th class.






Can I just thank you for coming, staff and pupils have been telling me how much they enjoyed the session and how much they have learned. 

One member of staff told me that it was the best workshop she`d ever done. She`s worked here for almost 20 years so that is a huge compliment. 

Many thanks - Charlotte Greenwood. BriminghamJunior School, Chesterfield. 

[Promoted by  Asian Association Chesterfield and North Derbyshire as part of their 40th Anniversary and Diwali celebrations.]


Kathakali drama and mask making workshops at the Museum of Croydon - CROYDON

MAY 2022.

  • Very enjoyable and very educational
  • Thank you for the fun day
  • Very wonderful people, kind, caring and inspirational.
  • An inspirational and informative workshop run by world renowned artists. A true gift. It took place in a welcoming, warm and friendly atmosphere.
  • The workshop was very well designed and implemented, allowing the participants to learn and understand the deep and complex meanings of Kathakali in a short period of time and in an accessible way.



Master Class Kathalali costume interpretation and conservation for the Museum of Croydon - CROYDON

May 2022


  • Incredible workshop - to link use and culture to presentation. Stunning objects – loved the gold leaf work, addictive.
  • Very informative with lots to learn. Really enjoyed the practical session.
  • Loved it, it brought it all to life. From a collection care point of view. It was invaluable to see and hear the information and experience in handling and displaying the costume.
  • Really enjoyed my day. Thank you so much. What a privilege.
  • I not only enjoyed this session but being able to dress/display the costume and ask questions was invaluable.
  • Blown away with the exhibition – beautiful, interesting, and so needed in Croydon.
  • Thank you for Friday it was a fascinating day and I’m certain everyone found it inspiring. It really is fascinating to understand just what goes into those amazing costumes. It’s a real education. I am so glad you are continuing all your work. Thank you for another stimulating day and bravo for all your hard work that makes these projects so successful.
  • Jane Pritchard, VICTORIA and ALBERT MUSEUM.




Workshop and performance for Subrang Arts, CROYDON

March 2022


  • Congratulations for the wonderful Kathakali exhibition which you have launched at Museum of Croydon.
  • All our students were delighted to participate in the workshops which you did at St. Swithun`s Church, Purley on 19th and 20th March. This was indeed a whole new experience for most of them as many had never done workshops based on Kathakali. The older dance students benefitted immensely as they learnt a lot about mudras [sign language] and the history of Kathakali. The younger ones thoroughly enjoyed the mask making workshop, make up demonstration and the performance.
  • This whole project has indeed raised awareness of the heritage of Kathakali and how important it is in regard to world theatre.  They were particularly observing the similarities and difference between Gujarati culture and Kerala culture. It has increased their understanding of a different cultural heritage.
  • We wish you the very best for future and hope you continue to bring these kinds of interesting and educational projects to Croydon.
  • Lata Desai – Chair - Subrang Arts




Workshops – Archbishop Lanfranc Academy: CROYDON

March 2022


  • When learning about Kathakali I enjoyed learning about a certain style of storytelling told using their hands. Through the way they act we can identify ideas and characters which is magnificent.
  • Zaharaa
  • Absolutely great -
  • Alison
  • It was great –
  • Marcel
  • When I started learning about Kathakali I didn`t really understand the culture but now I know more in depth learning of what Kathakali is and where it originated. –
  • Chloe.
  • When learning about Kathakali I really enjoyed learning about the culture and using the craft knife and gold pieces to restore the costumes. I was also amazed to see the old things that are still used in Kathkali. –
  • Edsila








Since being in lockdown due to Covid Kalamandalam Vijayakumar, Kathakali actor and co-founder of the Kala Chethena Kathakali Company, created the first digital interactive Dictionary of Kathakali Mudras [sign language] in the world.

Now people can learn the Mudras [gestures] used in Kathakali to tell a story and understand what the actors are actually saying. To access the dictionary on line Free of Charge please follow this link:  Kathakali Mudras

Within a few days of launching the dictionary it has been viewed all over the world bringing the language of Kathakali to thousands of people. 


I must stress that the dictonary is intended as a reference and can not take the place of a teacher. 


These are your comments:


  • A valuable educational resource. Keith Bray - UK 
  • A very impressive use of Lockdown. An excellent film & useful dictionary for schools & beyond. You’ve taken me back 15 years working in Swanmead Community School.I will forward your message to people who may be interested. It would certainly make for interesting and constructive home learning! Paul Birbeck Ex Head Teacher of Swanmead Community School. – UK
  • Your email has been forwarded to family in Amritsar. Paramjit Rajput - UK
  • Oh my word..... amazing captivating film, thank you for sharing it with us. As for even trying to do a milli-second of what Vijaya can do, I failed miserably. He has such control .... awesome. Peter Speak. - UK
  • I am happy to have spent time absorbing all the wonder, knowledge and atmosphere of the new website. The dictionary is splendid and in your magic way of saying it - well Done. Loved the new website, the dictionary is spectacular. I've posted a message on the website. Congratulation on all the work Christine Tillaimuthu - Austrailia
  • It’s such an amazing idea!!! Bhagya Lakshmi - UK
  • Well done and here's hoping that this will help loads and loads of people. Lots of love and good wishes from Marilyn and Vin Harris - UK
  • Just had a look at all the mudras on your lovely website....such an innovative way to present this beautiful art! Congratulations! So many people will benefit from it. I can see it is lot of hard work and 'labour of love'  Just wondered, after each video I saw something like to other youtube promotions...Is this how you have set it up? Lata Desai - UK
  • The new website is beautiful.  Checked out some of the videos - is there any way the image can be made larger when viewing? Much love to you and to Vijaya!  I still remember your time with us at Regent's with great fondness.  Valarie Kaneko Lucas - UK
  • I love it! I actually have a thing for sign languages. Thank you! Hope I did it as you wished for❤️ I did “happy”, but couldn’t find the whole sentence- it was a tricky and extremely beautiful that “happy” one.. Janne Home – Norway
  • I have seen and learned how to say "I am happy" Thank you for this opportunity. Love and best wishes – Sue Sirit - UK
  • What an amazing project!  As you know, I am not very clever at technology. I have clicked on to the words I AM HAPPY and played the video but I don't know what to do next. – Ann Lowe – UK
  • Website looks amazing! Great work. Shaili Desai – UK
  • I have looked at your website and how marvellous it is.  You are both very clever and must have worked very hard to get it up and running. Angie Arcourt – France
  •  What a wonderful website. I have very fond memories of your visits to our Highland village in Scotland. Derek Prescott – UK
  • I did it – Caroline Latter – Portugal
  • Yes, I found 'I am happy' ... what an amazing thing! A brilliant resource....x Bob Frith – UK
  • It looks like you have been very busy despite the pandemic! Your dictionary is absolutely remarkable. What a huge undertaking that must have been! Congratulations! Julia Brown – Victoria and Albert Museum – UK



St Julian's International School, Carcavelos, Portugal 


I have had the pleasure of experiencing the expertise of Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar once in England, once live in Portugal and now for a third time on ZOOM.

Although this wasn't quite as special as having them in person, it was a superb workshop, breaking down how to approach Kathakali mudras, facial expression and movement.

My students responded excellently and really enjoyed themselves.

These guys are such modest and friendly people and are absolute experts in their field. Very impressed and grateful.

Highly recommended

Caroline Latter 12th Nov 2020



Chestnut Grove Academy, Wandsworth, London

"The group enjoyed learning about the history of Kathakali and engaging with a different performance art. Students particularly enjoyed the practical elements to the workshop and most can still recite "I am sad because the strong wind destroyed the flowers" using mudras.

Some students were able to create links between their own cultural arts and Kathakali whilst considering how they could use music and movement to create a dramatic performance. It was made clear that the arts are a fundamental part of history and community. I think the idea of heritage and ownership was resonant in the workshop and the importance of cultural traditions. Students were interested in and encouraged to share their own history allowing students to make connections between their own cultural backgrounds.

In a time where we are encouraged to be divided it was a nice way for students to make connections with a different culture; finding similarities and appreciating the differences.

Lucinda Merrett - Chestnut Grove Academy - 28th March 2019

Cherry Orchard Primary School

"It [the workshop] was good because I learn`t things that I didn`t know and now I can show people who don`t know".

"It was good because it was interesting to watch and experience how Indian people dance traditionally"

"Why do you have to do weird dances - they were very interesting but they were really weird"

"I found this morning really funny and I rate it 9/10"

"I loved the dancing with VJ"

"In the morning we learned to do Indian dancing and in the afternoon we learned about different types of clothing from different places."

"It was really strange at the start but I really enjoyed learning. In the end I learned that you can speak to people through dancing"

"I really liked it and now I can know more about Indian dance and celebrations."

"Today I learned about Kathakali sign language and I really liked it because it was fun"

Cherry Orchard Primary School 15th March 2019.

The Halley Academy, London.

"Thank you so much for helping us. I really enjoyed this workshop with you guys, it was really fun. I hope you can come back next year!

"Thank you for taking the time to prepare this workshop for us. We are really thankful that you came to teach us about the history of Kathakali and Bharatanatyam. We hope you have fun doing more amazing work! And we hope that you won`t forget about us. "

"Thank you so much for bringing us back to the 4,000 year old sign language and teaching us things about Kathakali."

"Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to learn about Kathakali. I have really enjoyed it. I loved all the activities. This has made my mornings and afternoons at school even more fun and amazing. Thanks a lot."

Students from The Halley Academy - 8th March 2019

What do you think the group enjoyed most about Kathakali?

Being able to express themselves.

Did you think Kathakali will support awareness of world culture within the school?

Yes it gave them more of an insite into another culture. They will be able to share this with others.

Can you identify an aspect of the workshop that exposed how heritage is carried through th arts?

Clothing and theatre.

Do you think the workshop encouraged a greater understanding of people from different cultural backgrounds?

Yea - anything from food to clothes to how people tie their hair or make up.

Do you think the project will encourage a greater appreciation of how clothing retain our heritage?

Yes people will ask questions and that in itself will build a greater awareness.

Teacher from The Halley Academy - 8th March 2019

Chestnut Grove Academy

" I found the talk very interesting and learnt about different cultures in different countries. I also found it interesting to learn how humans developed."

" I liked learning the history of clothing because it showed how recent events were to do with clothes. I was sad because it shows that people were not allowed ot express their opinion through what they wear."

"I liked the workshop because we got to write about things that are important to us."

"I have enjoyed everything - to be honest I am very inspired. One things that could be worked on is more interaction so everyone feels involved."

"I really enjoyed this activity and gaining new knowledge and an insight into a different culture and religion. I also enjoyed the facial expressions.I really enjoyed this workshop because I learned about clothes from different places and cultures".

"I found it fun because we got to stand up and do it ourselves."

"Today i have learned some sign language that is 4,000 years old".

"I learned that early humans wore leather and fur clothing, their shoes were made from grass [like socks] and leather and were waterproof."

Chestnut Grove Academy 13th March 2019.

St Julian's International School, Carcavelos, Portugal

"Thank you so much for today. Everyone really loved it and got a good deal out of the experience. The workshop was at precisely the right level and they were able to understand and engage in breaking things down. The make-up demo and the performance were superb. Elizabeth, from St Dominic's, has sent her thanks and appreciation. Thank you and I hope we meet again."

comments from Caroline, Head of Drama and Theatre St Julian's School, Portugal Nov 2019

Hockerill College, Herts

"The breakdown of each element of the performance technique, exploring the mudras, facial expressions and movements, the chance for the students to explore different cultures and to consider how we communicate.

The workshop was well organised, energetic and excellent communication throughout the session".

Comments from students - Oct 2016

It helped me to see the importance of colour in many aspects of Indian art.

It gave me a different perspective on drama.

It showed me the way that Indian theatre works with culture and how movement is used in a religious background.

How we don`t need words to communicate with each other.

Kathakali helped me to understand that not all theatre is the same and that there are lots of ways to express feelings.

It demonstrated that complex stories can be theatrically told via non verbal means.

It showed me different styles of acting.

Ringwood Junior School, Hampshire

"It was a really enjoyable experience, very beneficial for the children to have out of school visitors, especially a male role model!" – .

Ringwood Junior School

Downlands Community School, Hassocks, Sussex

"Thanks so much for a wonderful day. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope we can book you again next year. We thought that Barbara and Vijayakumar were encouraging, supportive and had high expectations of our students – thank you".

Ellie Mockler - Downlands Community School

Rose Bruford College, Sidcup, Kent

"I particularly enjoyed learning about such a different form of theatre, and thinking about how we could incorporate the techniques involved whilst always being respectful of cultural identity. As an art-form it opened my eyes to the intense work and commitment needed to be a Kathakali Actor/Make-up artist"

Nick - Rose Bruford College

Bittern Manor Primary School, Southampton 2015


"There wasn't anything that I didn't like!"

"We loved the dancing"

"It was very interesting"

"I liked how they showed us what to do and then we had a go."

"We loved having Bradley because he helped everyone."

"I loved making the mask and adding lots of colours."


"The children were able to learn many facts and then have a go which helped them to deepen their knowledge. They thoroughly enjoyed the drama, they were all very engaged.

Having the chance to make a Kathakali mask allowed them to experiment with different colours and styles and to understand the drama, dance and costumes involved even more.".