The lost art of Yakshagana
Manipal: For the first time, Manipal University witnessed a Yakshagana performance at the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) Library Auditorium on September 4. An initiative by the Department of Commerce (DOC), the performance was organised in order to promote and increase awareness about the local culture, which according to the Yakshagana group is “the need of the hour.”
Yakshagana is a classical form of theatre art mainly spread across the coastal areas of Karnataka. It combines dance, music, dialogues, and costumes and make up in a unique form. Although it usually includes dialogues, the team performed a ballad for better understanding by audience who were not familiar with the local language. They enacted the scene of Jataayu moksha from the Ramayana.
The team also comprised of school students, part of the Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi, administered by Mahatama Gandhi Memorial College. It was their third performance in a week. Previously, they have also performed at National School of Drama, Delhi and Ranga Shankara, Bangalore.
“I was a student at MIT previously but I never tried to perform here with my troop as I felt we wouldn’t receive a great response noting that MIT has more of a cosmopolitan crowd. Overall, it was a good experience and we do hope to perform here again,” said Shishir Suvarna, member of the group.
Sharanya Ramprakash, another member of the crew underscored the lack of accessibility as the main factor for the low level of awareness of such traditional folk. “People always question the relevance of such forms of art but the main issue is the access. Although, Manipal University is in association with the Yakshagana Kendra for a long time, not much has been done to promote it. There are enough facilities such as the amphitheatre here to promote Yakshagana,” said Sharanya.
The idea of the event was mooted by the first year students and bolstered by faculty members, who played an important role in publicising the event. The turnout for the event was much better than expected.“For the group, the audience turn out does not really matter. When it comes to any performance, the popular question is how many tickets were sold. But they are beyond all this, and for them the stage is their temple.” said Abhinav, member of The Drama School, Mumbai and currently learning Yakshagana.
Samartha Pai, a first year BBA student, DOC, and organizer of the event said, “We are very happy with the response this event has received. Although we do not have any concrete plans as of now, we may conduct similar events in future.”
Edited by Sakhi Todi