The traditional art of ‘talamaddale’, a variant of Yakshagana theatre,  has gone virtual in times of COVID-19. A performance was streamed live on social media on June 13 and more such are in store.


In the conventional ‘talamaddale,’ the artists sit across in a place without any costumes and engage in testing their oratory skills based on the episode chosen. If music is common for both Yakshagana performance and ‘talamaddale’, the latter has only spoken word without any dance or costumes. Hence it is an art form minus dance, costumes and stage conventions.

A typical TalaMaddale show consists of veteran artists sitting in a circular fashion along with a Bhagavata (the singer, with “Tala” or pair of small hand cymbals) and a “Maddale” (a type of drum)player. Artists play the roles of characters in stories, typically, from Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other puranas

Under the changed circumstances due to the lockdown, many Yakshagana artists and Yakshagana-related organisations are hosting the virtual ‘talamaddale’ live programmes on the Facebook, YouTube since past over a fortnight.

TalaMaddale is an ancient form of performance dialogue or debate performance in the Karavali and Malnad regions of Karnataka and Kerala. The plot and content of the conversation is drawn from popular mythology but the performance mainly consists of an impromptu debate between characters involving sarcasm, puns, philosophy positions and humour. The main plot is sung from the same oral texts used for the Yakshgana form of dance- drama.

About Yakshagana:

Yakshagana is a theatrical form of presenting Mythological and historical stories. A Yakshagana performance includes music, dance and dialogues.

It is a traditional theatre form of Karnataka, is based on mythological stories and Puranas. The most popular episodes are from the Mahabharata i.e. Draupadi swayamvar, Subhadra vivah, Abhimanyu vadh, Karna-Arjun yuddh and from Ramayana i.e. Raajyaabhishek, Lav-kush Yuddh, Baali-Sugreeva yuddha and Panchavati.

The word Yakshgana means the songs of the Demi-Gods (yaksh ‘meaning Demi-God, and ‘gana’ meaning song). The performers wear interesting and colourful costumes, and elaborate headgears. The stage design and unique rendering is similar to that of the Western Opera.

Yakshagana is one of the most popular folk theatre forms of Karnataka. It is noted for its music, colourful costumes, vigorous dance movements, subtle expressions and extempore dialogues. Yakshagana has two main variations, each of which has many variations: Moodalapaya (the eastern form which is popular in north Karnataka) and Paduvalapaya (western style also known as coastal Yakshagana). Of the two, the coastal Yakshagana is more popular for the great sophistication that it has achieved over the years by the efforts of artistes, thinkers and researchers

 Other forms of Traditional Theatre in India:

Nautanki is usually associated with Uttar Pradesh.

Raasleela is based exclusively on Lord Krishna legends; it is believed that Nand Das wrote the initial plays based on the life of Krishna.
Bhavai is the traditional theatre form of Gujarat.

Maach is the traditional theatre form of Madhya Pradesh.
Bhaona is a presentation of the Ankia Naat of Assam.

Tamaasha is a traditional folk theatre form of Maharashtra. It has evolved from the folk forms such as Gondhal, Jagran and Kirtan.
Dashavatar is the most developed theatre form of the Konkan and Goa regions. The performers personify the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu-the god of preservation and creativity.

Krishnattam, folk theatre of Kerala, came into existence in the middle of 17th century A.D. under the patronage of King Manavada of Calicut. Krishnattam is a cycle of eight plays performed for eight consecutive days.
Mudiyettu, traditional folk theatre form of Kerala is celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (November-December).
Koodiyaattam, one of the oldest traditional theatre forms of Kerala, is based on Sanskrit theatre traditions.

Yakshagaana, traditional theatre form of Karnataka, is based on mythological stories and Puranas.

Therukoothu, the most popular form of folk drama of Tamil Nadu, literally means “street play”.

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