നാടകത്തിന്റെ സൈദ്ധാന്തികവും പ്രായോഗികവുമായ വശങ്ങളെക്കുറിച്ച് ഏറെ ചിന്തിച്ചിട്ടുള്ള പ്രശസ്തനാടകപ്രവര്ത്തകനാണ് യൂജിനോ ബാര്ബ. 1936 ല് ഇറ്റലിയിലാണ് അദ്ദേഹം ജനിച്ചത്. 1954 ല് നോര്വേയിലേക്കു കുടിയേറിയ അദ്ദേഹം ഫ്രഞ്ച് സാഹിത്യം, നോര്വീജിയന് സാഹിത്യം, മതചരിത്രം എന്നിവയില് ബിരുദം നേടി. 1961 ല് നാടകവേദിയെക്കുറിച്ചു പഠിക്കാന് പോളണ്ടിലെ വാഴ്സയിലെത്തി. പിന്നീട് പ്രശസ്തനാടകസൈദ്ധാന്തികനായ ഗ്രോട്ടോവ്സ്കിയോടൊപ്പം പ്രവര്ത്തിച്ചു. 1963 ല് ഇന്ത്യയിലെത്തിയപ്പോള് യാദൃച്ഛികമായാണ് ബോംബെയില്വച്ച് കഥകളിയെക്കുറിച്ചു കേട്ടറിഞ്ഞത്. തുടര്ന്ന് അദ്ദേഹം കലാമണ്ഡലത്തിലെത്തി. ആറു മാസം അവിടെ താമസിച്ചു. തിരികെ പോളണ്ടിലെത്തിയ ശേഷം നാടകത്തെക്കുറിച്ചുള്ള തന്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനസിദ്ധാന്തങ്ങള് സ്വരൂപിച്ചു. ‘തീയെറ്റര് ആന്ത്രപ്പോളജി’യെക്കുറിച്ചുള്ള അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ പഠനം പ്രസിദ്ധമാണ്. കഥകളിയുടെ വലിയ സ്വാധീനമുള്ള ‘ദരിദ്രനാടകവേദി’യെക്കുറിച്ചുള്ള ഗ്രോട്ടോവ്സ്കിയുടെ സങ്കല്പനങ്ങള് രൂപപ്പെടുത്തുന്നതിലും ബാര്ബയുടെ സ്വാധീനം ശക്തമാണ്. പിന്നീട് ബാര്ബ സ്വന്തം തീയെറ്റര് ഗ്രൂപ്പ് ആയ Odin Teatret നു രൂപം നല്കി. ബാര്ബയുടെ തീയെറ്റര് സങ്കല്പത്തിലാകെ കഥകളിയുടെ പ്രകടമായ സ്വാധീനമുണ്ട്. ‘എക്സ്ട്രാ ഡൈലി ടെക്നിക് എന്ന് അദ്ദേഹം വിളിക്കുന്ന നാട്യധര്മീസങ്കല്പവും അദ്ദേഹത്തിനു കഥകളിയില്നിന്നു കിട്ടിയതാണ്. പ്രത്യേകിച്ച് നടീനടന്മാരുടെ അഭ്യാസം പോലുള്ള കാര്യങ്ങളില് അദ്ദേഹം കഥകളികലാകാരന്മാരുടെ പദ്ധതി സ്വീകരിച്ചു. കളരിയഭ്യാസത്തിന്റെ മാതൃക പിന്തുടര്ന്നു. അദ്ദേഹത്തെ ഏറ്റവും ആകര്ഷിച്ച മറ്റൊരു കാര്യം കഥകളിയിലെ ഗുരു-ശിഷ്യബന്ധമാണ്. ആ ഗുരുശിഷ്യബന്ധം ‘പ്രൊഫഷനല്’ അല്ല, ‘വൊക്കേഷനല്’ ആണെന്നാണ് അദ്ദേഹം പറയുക. കലാമണ്ഡലംപോലൊരു സ്ഥാപനം സര്വകലാശാലയായ ഈ ഘട്ടത്തില് ആ ഗുരു-ശിഷ്യബന്ധത്തിനു മാറ്റം വരാതിരിക്കട്ടെ എന്ന് ആഗ്രഹിക്കുന്നു.
യൂജിനോ ബാര്ബ കലാമണ്ഡലത്തില് താമസിച്ച് കഥകളി കണ്ട് എഴുതിയ ഈ ലേഖനം ഇറ്റാലിയന് ഭാഷയില്നിന്ന് ‘യന്ത്രതര്ജ്ജമ’യിലൂടെ ഇംഗ്ലീഷിലാക്കിയതാണ്. പരമ്പരാഗത ഗ്രീക്ക്, ചൈനീസ്, യൂറോപ്യന് തീയെറ്ററുകളെ കഥകളിയുമായി താരതമ്യപ്പെടുത്തുന്ന ഭാഗം ഓരോ തീയെറ്ററുമായും ഗാഢബന്ധമുള്ള ഒരാള്ക്കു മാത്രം സാധ്യമായ രീതിയിലാണ്. കഥകളിയുടെ സാങ്കേതികമായ പ്രത്യേകതകളെന്തെന്നും അവയ്ക്ക് മറ്റു പരമ്പരാഗത നാടകവേദികളുമായുള്ള സാമ്യ-വ്യത്യാസങ്ങളെന്തെന്നും അദ്ദേഹം ഇതില് വിശദീകരിക്കുന്നു.
The Master of Kathakali to his pupil:
Where the Hand goes, goes the Glance,
Where the Glance goes, goes the Spirit,
Where the Spirit goes, goes the Heart,
Where the Heart goes,
there is the emotion.
Ritual tantric and agrarian ones and folk demonstrations, religious ceremonies and blossoming of Bhakti (religious enthusiasm) propagated by Alvars, these insane of “God”, with their extatic songs and dances, here are some of the leavens at the origin of several shapes of dance and theatre in India. But one would not have here to underestimate the direct taxation of the Gods.
In 1657, according to Kali Chronogram Grahya Stutirgathakaih, Krishna God appeared in Kalikut, in the Hefty fellow (the current State de Kérala), and made gift of a feather of peacock to a priest of high row. To celebrate this not very ordinary event, one created Krishnattam, danced religious drama, glorifiant the life and the exploits of Krishna and his Gopies, spectacle which was soon known in all the Hefty fellow.
The success which it gained pushed the Rajah of the State close to Kottarakkara to ask for notable of Kalikut a troop of Krishnattam. But because of domestic policy competitions, its request was refused, and one humiliated it by affirming that an art as refined as Krishnattam could not be included/understood and appreciated in its State. The Rajah then decided to take a terrible revenge by asking for the help of the impartial divinities which, coming to him helps some in the form of dream, inspired a new type of danced drama to him: Kathakali.
During several generations, this spectacle evolved/moved and grows rich by new elements: the masks were replaced by an elaborate make-up; the actor, who at the beginning played and recited the text, then saw himself entrusting the interpretation of the dramatic history by gestures and mimicry, while two singers, accompanied by an orchestra, sang the various episodes of the drama. In the middle of the XVIIIème century, Kathakali had reached the structure which one finds until our days.
Kathakali, literally “representation of tales”, is a spectacle whose episodes are reported on two singers, and interpreted and amplified by actors using mimicry, of gestures and movements which concern acrobatics and the dance.
The parts, whose topic is always borrowed from Ramayana, Mahabharata and especially from Purans, are written in a mixture of Sanskrit and malayalam, the language of the Hefty fellow.
The spectacle is held in the open air; it starts with laying down sun and lasts all during the night. The scene is very small, approximately 6 - 7 square meters. At the beginning, the spectacles were played in the temples or the courses of the castles. Today, they can be held on the places of the villages, in the halls of the factories or the schools to celebrate religious and historical festivals.
Following the example skené Greek, there is neither curtain nor decoration. Only, in the center, a large oil lamp is placed which, while being religious (like the furnace bridge of the traditional Greek scene), is also used to light the scene. One finds like accessory only one stool with the multiple functions: the actor y assoit to rest, it can climb it like a mountain, it can raise it with effort to affirm his force. On the bottom of the scene, the two singers and the orchestra are placed. That Ci includes/understands two types different of drums, a gong, cymbals and will tamboura it, kind of harmonium. The melodies take again topics of the carnatic music, used in the temples of Kérala.
With fallen the night, a vigorous and uninterrupted drum roll announces the spectacle whose access is always free. The public arrives and assoit by ground. Two young actors without make-up nor costumes achieve a dance with the religious character to attract each other the favour of Shiva Nataraja: Todayam. It is then only that the spectacle can start.
Two young boys enter and unfold a silk curtain which hiding place the scene and the actor who has just entered. The drum roll is done denser. Two hands, of which one artificially deformed by long silver nails, seize the curtain and shake it. It is the actor who points out his presence. By lower part the curtain, one can see his feet which carry out a frantic dance on the spot, accompanied by varied and prolonged cries which go from raucousness to very acute tremors.
From time to time, the actor lowers the curtain of an abrupt movement, for a split second. In front of the spectators, a face appears then to which an elaborate make-up removed any human character. This first making of contact is repeated several times, accompanied by fortissimo by music. Suddenly, the two young boys lower the curtain, and the actor shows himself in the majesty of his costume. Its body trembles, its arms remain open with the symbolically composed fingers, the legs are drawn aside and folded, and its feet take support not on the plant, but on the external edges. The singers entonnent the history which the actor starts to interpret by jumps, movements, gesticulations, mimicry, complexes kinetic alphabet which concerns the dance and acrobatics.
The parts describe extraordinary events which engage mythological gods and demons, heroes and legendary characters. Scenes of love, battles, exploits heroic, lyric situations, access of fury and cruelty, religious ceremonies are based in a history which always affirms the victory of the Gods and the Good over the Demons and the Evil. The topic of these parts is as known spectators as the myths of the Greek trilogies were to it Athenians. The actor incarnates this fight using his only body. “Kathakali then ceases being a danced drama, and an old ritual replaces”.
The play of the Kathakali actor can be compared roughly so that in Europe one would hear like a mixture of mime and ballet. The actor, by the eloquence and the expressivity of his gesticulation, of his movements of the feet and the body, and by his mimicry, must plunge the spectator not only in the atmosphere and the action of the drama, but it must also rebuild the place where that Ci is held. However, the play mimicry of the Kathakali actor moves away from the European mime and approaches the traditional Opera Chinese with regard to the means of expression developped at the point by a long tradition, and codified in an alphabet of immutable signs.
The ballet term mentioned Ci above should not give place to ambiguities. The Western ballet presents a history which, real or metaphorical, is communicated by a direct technique, “exoteric”, which comes down to saying that the music and choreography make it possible to the spectator to include/understand most of what is held on the scene. The Eastern dance, on the contrary, makes use above all of a hermetic language. Gestures, movements, body position or rhythmic sequence are not an attempt to present a reality directly, but to represent it to rebuild it using “figures”, of “ideograms” from which the significance conventional symbolic system escapes the layman who sees a similar spectacle for the first time. It is necessary to learn this particular language, or more exactly the key alphabet of this language, to be able to rebuild and include/understand what the singer wants to communicate. Without what, while striking us by his physical skill and its envoûtant rate/rhythm, the artistic effort of the Eastern dancer remains a pure visual pure gibberish.
This complex alphabet of signs, from which we come to speak, is consisted by mimicry of the face, gesticulations and preestablished body kinetics. There are thus nine movements of the head, eleven ways of looking at, six movement of the eyebrows, four positions of the neck. The movements of the members - in very sixty-four - include/understand those of the feet, of the toes, the heels, the ankles, the size, of the hips, all in all of all the flexible parts of the body. The gestures of the hands and the fingers of the actor have especially a narrative function, “epic”, whose composition is given starting from rigid diagrams: will mudras (in Sanskrit, sign), to some extent the alphabet of the language used in the play.
The face is the emotional mirror of the actor. By the action of the neck, eyes, lashes, iris, eyebrows, lips, teeth, nose, ears, chin, cheeks and language, the actor expresses and communicates all his psychic processes. He is struck of terror: he raises successively an eyebrow after the other, opens wide the eyes, quickly moves the irises of a corner of the eye to the other, he dilates his nostrils, his knobs tremble while its head turns by jerked movements. Maintaining the actor is taken of an access of rage: its eyebrows tremble, it raises its lower eyelids, it has the fixed and penetrating glance, the nostrils which tremble as well as the lips, the jaws narrowly tightened, and it does not breathe, thus causing a deterioration of the features of its face.
This given composition of the face does not express only feelings like the love or hatred, but also of the psychic and mental reactions, as well as caracterologic attitudes like curiosity, pride, the anxiety in front of death, or generosity.
But an actor does not exteriorize the emotional states of the mechanical role of way. The expressivity, or better the truth of each reaction of its face is convincing only if it engages its imagination and its resources psychic and mental. The rule which the old Masters of Kathakali teach with their pupils known as: where the hands go to represent an action, there must be posed the eyes; where the eyes go, there must follow intellect, and the action represented by the hands must give rise to a given feeling which is reflected on the face of the actor.
Of this rule it follows that the face is an emotional mirror whose reactions are conditioned not by the actions of another actor, but by the history described by the hands of the actor even. What comes down to saying that there is a double structure in the play of the actor; that Ci must, more or less simultaneously, to engage of the different psycho means physical and technical to purely represent two aspects complementary to a history the “narrative” aspect (hands) communicating what has just occurred in a determined episode, and the emotional aspect (the face) constituting the subjective reactions of the character towards the situation in which it is.
In a similar way, one can observe similar doubles structure in the play of the actor of the Chinese traditional theatre. Among Chinese, however, the body represents the character, and the head the actor as an individual who judges and appreciates the actions of the character, it be-with saying of his own body. It is this attitude of the head towards the remainder of the organization which is at the origin of the “epic” law formulated by Bertolt Brecht.
At the Indians, on the contrary, the head represents psyché of the character, his world interior which reacts to the events external concretized by the hands and the remainder of the body. One could say that the head is the character and that the body is the phenomenologic world. An example of the same kind can also be found in the Indian religious iconography, more exactly in the dance of Shiva Nataraja. The whole body of God is the world with his dialectical cosmic process of creation and destruction (the legs create and the hands destroy), while the face reveals the personal attitude of the Divinity in her expression of serenity and bliss.
Let us see now how this double structure is concretized according to strictly theatrical categories'. Let us take, for example, a scene where the protagonist is close to a river. Its hands build using signs (will mudras) the place where the character is, while communicating what is to be seen around: trees, boats, people. The face, via the eyes which look at the hands, expresses the reactions of the character. Then, suddenly, the hands of the actor tell the appearance of a crocodile. The face, with the sight of the animal (represented by the hands), reveals the interior movements of the protagonist: surprised, fright, desire to flee. After which, the hands tell the continuation of the history: the animal is killed. On the face of the actor, one can then read the effort, the dislike, or the pride of the hunter.
From this simple example, one easily includes/understands at which point the actor must concentrate and call upon his imagination to compose clearly and in quite understandable phases all the richness of his play, in a spectacle which lasts from eight to ten hours consecutive.
Will mudras, epic with the significance well envisaged composed by the hands and the fingers, are true visual ideograms which replace the word. Any Eastern dance makes use of will mudras which can be catalogued in four distinct groups:
a. Gestures taking as a starting point the the symbolism of the religious rites.
B. Epic mimicry, imitative or descriptive, reproducing a person, a situation, an attribute.
C. Gestures borrowed from the everyday life, naturally extremely stylized.
D. Invented gestures having a suggestive or subjective value (suggesting, for example, the degree of love of the husband for its wife).
Will mudras can be composed by the two hands together or only one hand. They are in strict connection with the movements of the body and the mimicry of the face. One only and even will mudra can assume different and even opposite significances, according to whether the actor carries out it moving or static position, with the expression mimicry of courage or panic.
There is in the kathakali 24 will mudras fundamental which, according to the various possible combinations between them and, as we have just said it, in relation to the movements of the body and the mimicry of the face, can express approximately three thousand words, what to cover all the vocabulary of a part.Each word of the part is expressed by one will mudra, even grammatical topics such as “if”, “when”, “but”
In certain cases, the actor leaves free course with his imagination and his imagination. Let us suppose that it describes a woman. After having composed will mudra it correspondent with this word, it starts to work out the “beauty” of the woman by introducing attributes or metaphors such as “beautiful like the lotus”, “to tend like a petal of pink”, “with eyebrows like waves”. We will see in the chapter on the training of the actor how this imaginative faculty and this talent for the improvisation - manodharma - are essential qualities for the actor.
Actually, the actor is a sculptor whose body is simultaneously chisel and block of marble. Will mudras are not only one visual ideogram with descriptive value, they constitute a process of plastic representation emotional which engages the body of the actor in empty space that it fills of his presence and its dynamics.
A mountain is not simply a simple gesture. Its altitude, one can read it in the eyes of the actor, in his glance, while we see the body climbing this mountain, the body which is simultaneously mountain and mountaineer. It is a play which is not descriptive painting, monodimensional and univocal reproduction of the actions of the character; but a play which, by continual oppositions, creates a universe, only using the body, and at the same time the analysis.
This dialectical of the play makes it possible to the spectator to judge outside like the interior, to be introduced of it into the internal mechanism and to apprehend it like totality. In his play, the actor arrives at a continual superposition between the subject and the object, the world of the subjective emotions and the phenomenologic world, between the action and the reaction.
The fact of expressing each word of the part by one will mudra can be regarded as the cause of the long duration of a Kathakali spectacle. A part, which with the reading takes only twenty minutes, presented this way on the scene, can last three or four hours consecutive. That can seem very tedious with a European spectator, but the Indian public, like any Eastern public, has very an other way of approaching the theatre. The important thing for him it is the skill and the virtuosity of the actor. Each gesture, movement, expression mimicry of the actor are considered and evaluated by a public of experts which does not hesitate to bruyamment show bruyamment his appreciation or his spite.
As of his sudden “revealing” with the public, the actor gives an impression of artificiality due to his make-up, his costume, his play and his step. One could think that there was an effort conscious on behalf of the creators of Kathakali to avoid any form of expression which copies or imitates the reality of the everyday life.
The make-up blurs the individual aspect of the actor to transform it into supernatural face, in suggestive mask. The costumes completely break the organic harmony of the body and the new silhouette which releases strikes us by its architectonic and extraordinary proportions.
The play, will mudras mimicry of the face as well as, uses a language where reality is not passively illustrated, but recreated by original artistic means. The step deforms the dynamics of the actor, without for that blocking it. The actor always has the folded legs, the drawn aside knees, and it is pressed on the edges external of the feet, position extremely tiring and painful, whose control is acquired only after one long drive.
This artificiality of the Kathakali actor (the artificiality term is used here in the artistic direction of deformation) is not without pointing out a disproportionate and dehumanized puppet. Several elements contribute to corroborate this impression of extreme theatricalness.
1. The appearance of the actor in front of the public is preceded by a complex convention with ritual value: Tiranokku or lowering of curtain.
The entry of the actor on the scene is hidden by a large coloured cloth that two young boys hold with the center of the scene. Hidden behind this curtain, we feel, or better we hear the presence of the actor by cries, howls, vocalizations which are not any more communicative language, logical, but forced magic. That Ci communicates to the public the supernatural power of the character, and it makes it possible the actor to penetrate in “the sound universe”, in the breathing (prana) of that which he incarnates.
The voice like magic sonority with value incantatrice, we also find it in other theatrical forms strongly mimées such as Barong, Kabuki, Nô, as well as in the ritual tantriques ones of the “primitive” people.
From time to time, the two young boys lower the curtain of a half measures and the envoûtant face of the actor appears for a few seconds with the public. All the time one can observe with the lower part of the curtain the feet of the actor who, on the spot, carries out a dance at frantic intervals.
This complex ceremony lasts approximately twenty minutes, then, by an abrupt and decided gesture, the curtain is lowered and the actor is revealed to us in all the majesty of his apparatus, ready to incarnate the history.
2. During the play, the mouth of the actor is always closed. It breathes by the nose, except in the situations where it must use the language or push alarming cries. But a similar situation, when the rule of immobility of the mouth is broken suddenly, does nothing but reinforce the impression of abnormal and inhuman in the face of the actor .
3. With that made during the incredible capacity of dilation of the eyes of the actor. The pupils seem to cover half of the cheeks. Often the glance is fixed, like that of the statues; and the gesticulation, very animated, as well as the almost lifting movements, contrast violently with these enormous static eyes, solidified as in the contemplation of the vacuum. Sometimes the eyelids are opened wide and the irises disappear in a corner from the eye, motionless for a long period of dynamic play where the head moves continuously and where the face changes constantly.
4. The actor follows his hands of the eyes all the time, it looks at them as if its hands even became the object or the person whom they want to introduce. The extremely dilated eyelids reveal white or red orbits (artificial colouring due to the grains of a plant), the fixed irises or moving jerked.
Formerly, the face was completely solidified, the eyes assumed all the weight of the expression. In a part, Agni-Salabha, there is a butterfly which is burned in the flames, action which the actor returns only using the eyes.
5. The extreme mobility of the hands and the fingers touches us by a expressivity which goes beyond any imagination. It is especially the speed of these members and their compositions which fascinate, strange alphabet of dumb deaf persons. They are the matrix of materials epic that the actor represents and develops by his dynamics. Their movements, their interlacings in flexible and jerked rate/rhythm, are with the dilation of the eyes the two features which suggest more the this bringing together with the puppet.
6. The movements of the various parts of the body are often based on a desynchronization, on a divorce well Net of the rate/rhythm between the various members. Thus, for example, the legs can move at an extraordinary speed while the hands carve will mudras them with a slow and calculated precision. Or, facial mimicry can be sharp and the impregnated body actions of an austere and serene gravity.
Just as in certain Chinese operas and the Japanese traditional theatre, Kathakali does not use women on the scene. They are actors who interpret the female roles. The step, mimicry, the gesticulation as well as the least movements of these actors reveal a deep knowledge of psychology and behavior of the woman. There are nothing vulgar or ambiguity, no concession with what could flatter the taste of a popular public. To play such a part requires a skill which is a true test bench for the actor. Kudumaloor Karunakaran Nayar, Mei Lan Fang Indian, will remain in the history of Kathakali like one of the greatest creators of female characters.
Another particular fact of the play is consisted Kalasam, interludes danced by the actor during the history at the end of each sung stanza. They have as a function to slacken the public and to show the agility of the actor. But one can, actually, speech here of an effect of distance. The history stops abruptly and the actor, who can be was playing a part of old man, carries out a fast and vigorous dance. Kalasam lasts hardly a few minutes, after which the actor takes again the wire of the stopped play.
Another feature, which one could also regard as an effect of distance, is the attitude of the actor at the end of a “solo”. While his/her colleague takes the changing and continues the scenic action, the actor assoit on the stool which is on the scene, it release and behaves as if it were in his cloakroom in full loneliness: he improves his make-up, fixes his crown more firmly, puts in order the many ornaments which furnish its costume. As soon as its presence is necessary for the development of the action, it rises, a sudden metamorphosis is achieved in front of the eyes of the spectators, and again the actor finds the supernatural “form” which it had just left.
All these average complexes of expression of the Kathakali actor are based in a play which leads to its dehumanization, if by human one understands the naturalness, the usual one of the everyday life. Stylization, the counterfeit, the “artificiality”, if one wants, are the sieve by which the supernatural reality of the part is shelled. The ritual value of the spectacle supports the psychological engagement of the spectators and the actors.
The contribution of the music is dominating. This background music which accompany, syncope and rate/rhythm the scenic action, is also stimulative psychic, a weapon of striking, a species of blackmail. The spectator lets himself slip into the “magic time” of the spectacle, it is given to a current which, while charming it in the world of the phenomena, transports it in the supernatural areas where Gods and Demons clash in a fight which is the prototype even of our human adventure.
One of the features of the Eastern theatre resides in its visual significance. That is due to fact that your screen of the part is known of the public, which initially appreciates the physical virtuosity of the actor, that Ci interpreting a partition of body signs sanctioned by a long tradition and severe conventions.
In any art, the expressivity is in direct connection with the deformation. Artistic deformation which amplifies, hyperbolise, attacks the phenomenologic and epiphenomenologic world to analyze it, to break up it and make thus burst the limits of conditionings and the mental or emotional stereotypes.
The function of the costume, in such a theatre, is less one attempt to rebuild a historical or social reality, that a means of striking the public by the richness, the colors, the cut of the costumes which leave daily reality and help the actor.
Kathakali, with its scenic language which is pure a body “semantics”, must satisfy and strike the eyes to be able to touch the imagination and the sensitivity of the spectators. The Masters of this spectacle, during the evolution of the forms of the play, underlined and accentuated by a deformation conscious the expressive instrument of the actor, it be-with saying his body, like all its movements, aiming to equip this body with a new “form”, and to give to the movements a significance major than that of the daily reflexes.
This “redimensioning” or hyperbolisation of the body is actually only dramatizing, by taking the theatre term in its etymological direction of spectacle. In fact the case for the make-up metamorphoses the face in an almost dehumanized mask, and all the more envoûtant. The scenic step, drawn aside knees, legs folded fascinating support on the edges external of the feet, obliges the actor to exceed any realistic body attitude.
The costume is not only used to strike by its polychrome promptness and by its fabulous form, it is as an almost organic instrument, as the actor uses actively to reach dynamic effects: the costume transforms, amplifies, reduces its own body and puts able to as well as express and communicate simultaneously the place of the action the attributes of this place, the actions of the protagonist as well as his emotional reactions. The function of the costume is less to be decorative that additional and dynamic scenography.
At first sight, the Kathakali costume gives the impression of an enormous cage which absorbs the lower part of the body of the actor, and seems to block the simplest movement. This impression is due especially to the disproportionate skirt and the crown hairstyle whose balance seems random, characteristic of all the male roles.
Similar to the costume of the women of the period élisabéthaine, this bell skirt, which finishes below the knees, is made of a series of broad fabric stringcourses inserted one beside the other in the belt. At the lower part of this first “skirt”, the actor puts another, bulkier, though the shorter. To give an exceptional width to these two skirts, and to prevent at the same time that they do not block the movements of the legs, the actor fixes around his belly a long cotton band, broad twenty five centimetres and long of approximately fifteen meters, in which it also inserts short pieces of fabric.
At the beginning, undoubtedly, when the actor recited and sang the text, this stringcourse was also to constitute a “base” for the airstream which carried the voice. “Base” obtained by the compression of the muscles of the abdominal strap, and which took up the same duty that the belt used still today by the actor of the Chinese traditional theatre.
The impression of nonfunctional arrangement of this costume disappears as soon as the actor starts to play. Its folded and half-opened knees hold the well tended skirt and that Ci accompanies and underlines each movement by gracious oscillations. Whereas the actor is motionless, this enormous skirt defines it architectoniquement, to become, at once that the actor moves, the springboard of which it plunges with the most complicated movements and lifting.
This costume perpetually surrounds it of a fascinating halation of oscillations which seems to emanate from the supernatural capacity of the mana of the divine character. It is enough for him to bend down a little to cover its ankles and its feet and to become a species of disproportionate trunk, with increased volume, pointing out the wood images of the Indian celestial Pantheon still employed in certain rural ceremonies. Or, it is enough for him to go normally (in general the actor has the folded knees) to become a wader with the incommensurably long legs, new effect whose simplicity does not miss theatricalness.
It is enough to see how the actor can use her skirt to suggest the step of a girl or animals, the tremor of the waves or a way narrow and full with obstacles, to be convinced that the body is not a prisoner of the costume, and that the costume is only prolongation, amplification, complement of the body language.
Genuine turn of force, or better of address, the costume thus integrated into the body, becomes the tangible reality of the spectacle, accessory and panorama, metaphor and reality, natural symbiosis between an organization living and of the multi-coloured materials which suddenly take life and end in a magic language.
To the bulky skirt in which the lower part is engulfed of the actor, is added the corset white, or coloured, covering the higher part of the body. Its simplicity is enriched by many ornaments: coloured ribbons, long white scarves and reds to which small mirrors in the shape of small bells are attached that the actor handles with ease during its play.
The shoulders are widened by gilded metal shoulder pads; several red and green pompoms, several bracelets as of the collars different lengths cover the arms and the neck. Around the ankles, therefore quite visible, small bells are attached which rythment the least movement of the legs. Long silver nails deform the left hand. If they produce an almost elegant effect at the time of gesticulations sharp and gracious, they acquire a wild character when they are used by characters démoniaques. The latter make also use of false tooth, which transform into hideous a grimace their face with the alarming make-up.
The formal balance of this costume, from a purely visual point of view, is reached thanks to the hairstyles. Similar to cones, often surrounded by a disc at the bottom gilded and decorated in red and green, species of halation, they decorate the head of the actor of an imposing crown, symbolic system in its splendour and which, with the make-up and the remainder of the costume, contributes to the dehumanization (or surhumanisation) of the actor. They are carved in a wood gilded and embellished by hundreds of small pieces of metal and mirror whose flutter accompanies each movement by head. Often decorated feathers of peacock , their form as well as the vibration of all the ornaments which they comprise, make spout out rays continuously and cause effects coloured according to lighting and movements'. Thus the disproportionate volume of the costume is compensated by the majestic height that the actor acquires thanks to this aureole.
It is interesting to notice how, in Kathakali, one looked after the costumes of the male characters. It is all the more striking which with the Hefty fellow, the matriarchy was very widespread and is still. The costume of the women is of a simplicity and a realism which contrast (has T one can be wanted to succeed to this end consciously) with the opulent and variegated richness male costumes. A kind of sari, broad white color pastel or roll of material, falling down to the feet, a corset of the same color, a veil which covers the hair and completes on the shoulders, of the collars and other ornaments, without excess: here is in general the costume of the women. Each character has his attributes, his ornaments, his colors. They are the divinities who are charged with ornaments. The mortals are introduced with a realism where mix with the grotesque elements.
By the use that the actor in fact, the costume takes up a multiple duty of “accessory”. The scene is empty. One sees there only the stool mentioned Ci above. Sometimes, reaching a realism which becomes automatically artificiality, so much the play and the costume are stylized, one uses accessories such as a red liquid appearing blood (in the scenes of battle and murder) or of long entrails (fabric stringcourses) which one with satisfaction removes from the corpses of the broken demons. Actually, the costume is the only decoration, the only accessory of the spectacle.
Of a theatrical point of sight, one can notice:
1. Its coloured richness which, in the light of the only oil lamp, cannot miss striking.
2. Its architectonic character, sculptor, who works the silhouette of the actor suggestivement, especially when it is in static positions.
3. Its capacity “to oversize” the body of the actor (it should be remembered that the Indians of the South are small and frail).
4. Its particular employment which makes it possible the actor to amplify the expressive compositions of the body and its movements.
Some of these elements are common to any religious theatre (masks and cothurnes in the Greek tragedy, very stiff and disproportionate costumes in Japanese No). They are especially means of a pure theatricalness. The magic oval of the make-up, the costumes with their polychrome richness, the majestic crown make it possible the actor to communicate by a suggestive language of colors and forms, and to be dehumanized in an artificial expressivity which makes think of these Ubermarionetten proposed by a reformer of the European theatre.
TRAINING OF THE ACTOR
The training of the Kathakali actor is based on the teaching system employed with Kalamandalam of Cherutteruthy Kérala the best institute of professional preparation.
To be admitted there, the young candidates must pass an examination. The children because they are children, the limiting age being twelve years - are selected according to their health , their physical beauty, their direction of the rate/rhythm and the music, their body agility.
At the institute, they live together, in maisonnettes, arranged each one for four people. No beds, neither of cupboards, nor other pieces of furniture. Plaits on which they sleep, a bag containing the personal effects, with the walls of the images of gurus (Masters) and gods; here is austere and modest interior their dwellings.
They eat all together in a refectory, they work the every day, except for Sunday, four hours of the morning at nine o'clock in the evening. They have two months of holidays per annum. The studies are with their expenses except exception: when the family is too poor, the institute accomodates them free.
The studies last eight years. The young people are divided into two groups: beginners during the first four years, veterans then. A whole series of exercises of base (dynamic of the legs, exercises of the eyes and face) are carried out daily by the two groups.
gurus the courses direct. The discipline is very severe, it guru inspiring a true terror. I did not see beating the young people with Kalamandalam, but, in other schools, this practice is frequent and is accompanied by other very hard corporal punishments: for example of the painful physical positions that the pupil must keep during one hour and even more. The least infringement can bring the final distance of the school.
At four o'clock in the morning, the pupils rise and pass in huts where, with the light of oil lamps, they begin their exercises. There is not guru, but silence and the discipline reign absolutely. Their first exercises are of gymnastics and acrobatics, carried out according to a rate/rhythm which the young people assert euxmêmes while pronouncing of the sentences without significance, with the rhythmic value well defined. These exercises are carried out collectively and include/understand:
a. The complex greeting of the actor, with the divinity and the public.
B. Many very precise jumps, ahead, behind, on side. Sometimes the pupil stops suddenly in the middle of a jump, a leg raised in the air, and keeps, in balance, this position during some time.
C. Side opening of the legs, until touching the ground with the interior part of the thighs (spaccata).
D A dynamic “bridge”. The pupil, upright, curve his chest behind, folds the knees and with dash fall behind on the right hand. It passes very with continuation the weight of its body on the left hand and, of a blow of kidneys, turns over to the initial position. The legs, during this exercise, remain in the same place.
E. Exercises which constitute a rythmée series of jumps and inflections of the knees.
These exercises last approximately an hour. The following hour is devoted to the drive of the legs. Placed in rows and dictating the tempo, the pupils on the spot carry out steps at an increasingly high speed. The legs are folded, the knees drawn aside outside, the pupils are pressed not on the plant, but on the edges external of the feet. The purpose of these exercises are to accustom the future actor to this basic position of its play, anti-natural and very painful position, and to equip the legs with a physical resistance and an agility exceptional.
It is now six hours of the morning. The pupils will bathe in a close river. At six hours and half, they lunch and, at seven hours a quarter, resume work.
Until midday and half, under the direction of theirs gurus respective, they repeat without interruption of the fragments or the complete scenes of a drama. At the end of his studies, a Kathakali actor knows perfectly the partition of the signs, mimicry, the jumps, of will mudras of all the characters (men and women, principal roles and secondary roles) of an about sixty parts. These five working hours are devoted to the assimilation of these partitions.
The pupils can repeat the same passage of a part four, five, ten times, until guru that is to say satisfied. If the beginners and the veterans have gurus different, the discipline is the same one.
At midday and half, they stop their drive and will lunch. Up to three hours, the pupils are free. From three hours up to five hours, they follow theoretical courses: history of the Kathakali theatre, biographies of gurus, religion, English, malayalam (language of the State de Kérala), Sanskrit, geography and history.
From five hours to six hours and half, sitted in padmasana (cross legs), the pupils exert the eyes and the face. After a half hour of rest, at seven hours, they sing during half an hour of the religious anthems whose final one is the praise of large guru Kathakali.
From seven hours and half at eight hours and half, they are exerted on will mudras. They repeat them will mudras that it guru their watch and which constitutes the partition of the scenes that they will play the following day. They repeat this partition of will mudras sitted, i.e. by engaging only the higher part of the body, face included/understood. After which, they dine and, at nine hours, they will lie down.
At least twice per month, veterans, with theirs gurus, play of the whole parts to which is invited the local population. They thus have the occasion to be familiarized with the technique of the make-up and the costumes. The beginners attend with the make-up and the clothing of their older comrades by helping them: they pulverize and mix the colors, prepare the various parts of the costume.
In general, these representations are given saturdays, because they last all during the night. Thus, Sunday, the pupils can rest. There is also a whole series of spectacles which commemorate the date of birth or the death of large Guru or a religious birthday. In these occasions, all the costumes, the many ornaments, the colors of the make-up are exposed in a species of room temple where oil lamps burn and where throne the photograph of Guru or the image of the god. The roots of this tradition plunge in the mimetic magic: size and power of Guru or from the god must pass to clothing which the actor will wear later during his play.
One can distinguish two parts in the drive from the Kathakali actor.
The first is the mnemonic assimilation of will mudras, of mimicry, the movements relating to a role, in a word, the “ideographic” partition of each character of a part.
The second part, one could it define as elementary or propaedeutics compared to this part “assimilatrice”. It includes/understands a series of exercises which must develop in the actor his body capacities and to enable him to realize with ease and precision the various partitions. By them, one reaches with an absolute control of each muscle of the face, less movement of the eyes, with an agility of the legs and remainder of the body, finally, thanks to the acrobatics exercises, a physical condition which makes it possible to make with ease the physical effort required by the spectacle.
It is interesting to announce that there are not exercises to develop the agility and the expressivity of the fingers. These parts of the body which, during the play, assumes a dominating role by supporting the narrative wire, are not subjected to a particular drive. Their agility and their expressivity are reached by a continual repetition of same will mudras until one obtains the desired precision.
In the same way, there is no course for the make-up. The young people familiarize themselves with this technique during spectacles which they give during their four last years of studies.
One sees the interest of the division of the pupils in two groups. In the group of the beginners, there can be a boy who, after three or four years of work, already reached a high technical level. Concurrently to him, a twelve year old is exerted child who begins very right his training. Thus young people are all the time confronted with their older comrades, stimulated, invited not to make bad figure at their side. Moreover, it guru require the same effort of all the members of his group.
A particular aspect of the training of the actor is it Chavitti Uzhicchil, or the massage with the feet. The pupil is subjected to this massage in the season of monsoons which, in Kérala, takes place between May and August.
The whole body is oint with a mixture of sesame oil, coconut and of ghee (“clarified” butter). The pupil extends, the face and the chest touching the ground. The thighs are outside thorough and the knees are based on pieces of wood of about fifteen centimetres height. The lower part of the legs is folded towards the interior and the feet are touched. In this position, the lower part and the higher part of the body touch the ground, while the kidneys are raised because of wood under the knees.
guru, being held with a beam parallel with the ground located at the height of its shoulders, starts to mass delicately with the plant and the toes of the right foot, the body of the wide pupil. As it masses, it compresses the lombes, by pressing them towards the ground. By the gradual pressure thus exerted, the low belly touching the ground while the knees are always pressed on wood, one deforms the kneecap.
It is useless to say how much this massage, which lasts approximately a half hour, is painful, especially at the beginning. Through this painful physical operation, the young actor organically acquires the basic position of his play: the parallel feet, with a half measures of distance, are pressed on the edges, the toes are contracted towards the plant, the knees are isolated with 180°, the chest is very right, the chin pressed against the neck, the arms open and parallel with the ground, the hands folded downwards.
Briefly let us analyze this basic position from the point of view of the musculature. The calves are stiffened because they support the weight of the whole body, in the same way the feet whose toes are contracted towards the interior. The muscles of the thighs and the lombes are released. The muscles of the back are stiffened because of the very right position. In the same way muscles of the nape of the neck, because of the pressure of the chin on the neck. Finally the muscles of the arms are with half stiffened, while the hands are completely released. Here is the correct and functional muscular engagement of the actor in his basic position.
Posture complexes or deformation of the body would cause, at a layman, the total engagement of all the muscles, which would tire it quickly and would subject it to a hard physical effort, not to speak about the lack of plastic expressivity and dynamic effectiveness. The Kathakali actor, while controlling perfectly and consciously each muscle of his body, easily engages the muscles strictly necessary and keeps a muscular economy as soon as the action requires jumps, or complex physical actions.
The body is subjected to a rigorous discipline, even painful, which transform it into an adequate medium of thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions. It is this perfect control of the body, this conscience of the anatomical structure which, with the necessary mental concentration to carry to the extra-human life actions and reactions, connects Kathakali with yoga, Hatha Yoga as well as Rajah Yoga
Here a exercise practised by Chakyars, community of Kérala considered for its excellent actors. “The first day, the pupil assied to exert his eyes as soon as the moon makes its appearance. The eyes are oints with butter. II its irises around the moon turn, unceasingly, until the disappearance of the star. The first day, this exercise lasts approximately an hour, time of the passage of the moon in the sky. The second day, the pupil assoit per same hour while applying to the same kind of exercise which, this time, will last twice longer, because such is the lapse of time between the appearance and the disappearance of the night star. Likewise , the third day. It thus continues to exert its eyes each night, the duration of this always increasing exercise. The fifteenth day, night of full moon, the pupil sat six hours of the evening at six o'clock in the morning, moving without interruption his irises in top and bottom, on the left and on the right, in round and diagonal, from one corner to another. It stops only at dawn. Butter is used to give an effect refreshing to continual rotation of the irises. This system is known under the name of Nilavirikkuka, literally “to have sat with the moonlight”.
There are two more qualities which the actor must have; the first it is Bhangi, grace.
Comparable with Hana (“marvellous flower”) that Zéami in its treaties describes on No, Bhangi is this capacity of the actor of “spontanéiser” his technically complex actions, to metamorphose, in an attractive and natural way, purely physical actions in aesthetic values idéo. It reached there only when he is an absolute Master of his expressive instrument, and can play about it as a virtuoso.
The second quality is it Manodharma or imaginative faculty. It is it which makes it possible the actor to exceed the descriptive limits of the text to launch out in the spontaneous and impromptu action. In particular scenes, the actor takes the changing of the singers. The bearing of the drums syncopates and rate/rhythm its improvisation. It then brushes a whole series of descriptions, adjectives, metaphors which constitute its contribution suitable for the drama. Descriptions of panoramas or assemblies divine, the beauty of liked or the ugliness of the demons spout out of its imagination and its liveliness.
We have an example of this creative contribution of the actor in a scene of Kalyana Saugandhika.
Bhima, the Hercules Indian, is pushed by his wife to seek an extraordinary flower in a forest. The description of the walk of Bhima in this forest is a turn of force of control, address, poetic and burlesque imagination. Without moving of his place, the actor shows us the path which reduces, the vegetation which chokes it, the difficulties of the way. It presents the animals to us which it sees: it leaps like a monkey, crawls like a snake, springs in an escape panics like an antelope. It makes us admire the enormous baobab trees and the wild palm trees by taking their form. Close to a river, it sees women. It imitates in turn their step, the very curved old woman, the girl who hops, nonchalante. It shows us their work: its body becomes washing machine (woman which washes, washed, vague clothing of the river), threshing-machine of carpet, accordeuse of instruments (extraordinary reality of an arm which vibrates and plays like a guitar). Male strength of walk, it passes to the female charm, the psychological subtlety of the female states of heart. This incredible solo, which lasts more than one hour, is the test bench for Manodharma of an actor. It lavishes plays and improvisations there.
The training of the Kathakali actor wants to be especially sharpening of the expressive possibilities of the body. The least part of this body is involved and put in a position to express what the same words cannot communicate. The eyes dilate and contract according to the vegetable dash of a lotus which opens out, the irises roll and dart by seeing the swirl of the enemies who advance out of weapons, the lashes vibrate to return the flight of a bee, the nostrils are gripped, the chin, the knobs, the lips tremble reflecting delicate and secret emotions.
The psychic processes, the psychological intentions, the complexity of the reasons for each action appear by physical reactions which strike by their intuitive exactitude. Such Putana, the witch who approaches the Krishna child to kill it. It advances furtively skew, the feet open to 180°, not raising ground, snake which crawls towards its prey. The criminal intentions of Putana all, are exposed there in its step. The face is fixed in a smile which wants to be innocent, and which proves to be hypocritical, if one compares it with the expressive intention of the lower part of the body.
The actor priest of Kathakali offers his body to the divinity like the juggler of Our Lady which, in the retirement of the convent, offered to the Virgin best self: art to make fly in the air a half-dozen of balls. And from same as the Virgin went down from the furnace bridge and essuyait the face of its servant, “for the true excessively pious person, the dance is a form of yoga, a process of car elimination disciplined towards the final identification with “the Eternal Future”: cosmic Dance of Shiva Nataraja” .
A comparison with the European actor would be essential here. It is not the place. We want only to remember us this sentence of the large Polish actor J. Jaracz: “The actor of the ancient theatre proceeded of the mysteries, therefore religious phenomenon; the modern actor proceeds of the brothels of the Rebirth”.
Three or four hours before the spectacle, which starts with fallen the night, the actors are collected to be made up. Silence the absolute reign; large oil lamps create hearths of light around whose the actors are brought together. Their sons or young people chelas (disciples) reduce out of powder stones yellow, red, green, amalgamate and prepare the colors and it chutti, a made white face powder paste and juice of silt. All this work is directed by specialists in the make-up.
The first phase of the make-up is carried out by the actor himself. Sat in padmasana (crossed legs, very right trunk), it weaves on its face a whole net of lines of various colors, equidistant of the nose, eyes and mouth. It does not employ low-size brushes, but snap rings. Then, it entrusts to the hands of a specialized make-up man. Extended by ground, the entirely released body, breathing rythmiquement and deeply, it concentrates on its role, falling into a species from torpor, supported by the heat of after midday. In this sleep is held a psychic process which, of anybody deprived, transforms the actor into God or Demon, according to the role to be played. At the end of this second phase, the make-up man awakes it. It rises, its gestures and its step is already modified.
However the make-up man works on the face of the actor. It applies in relief it chutti, energy from one ear to another while passing by the chin. chutti is posed in several layers and, ultimately, it forms a three centimetres thickness white line which delimits the oval of the face. Blank paper barbs are inserted in chutti who, in a few minutes, solidifies himself. All this work lasts approximately an hour and half.
The third and last phase of the make-up are achieved by the actor. It lengthens its eyes to the ears with a black or white paste, according to the played character. The remainder of the face is painted of a homogeneous color: green for the positive gods and heroes, red for the violent ones and the ambitious ones, yellow for the mortals, black for the demons and Ensured them. The lips are painted in red, with two small rounds painted on the two sides, also in red. According to the character, the actor embroiders his face of meticulous characteristics. Thus the demons have the red nostrils, the quarrelsome characters carry two small white balls, one at the end of the nose, the other on the face.
This symbolism of the colors, according to a determined typology, belongs to the tradition of the Indian theatre as of Bharata Natya Shastra, a traditional text on the theatre and the dance. But rites tantric, with their hideous and alarming masks, the tradition of the facial tattooing of the tribes of the Hefty fellow, and the close commercial contacts maintained by this part of India with China since many centuries, marked the make-up of Kathakali which, except for the typological colors, deviates from the regulations of Bharata Natya Shastra.
Another feature of the make-up is the reddening of the white of the eyes of certain characters (women and gods) by seeds of Cunda Poov (solanum pubescens). Incredible crimson eyes are detached then from the black edge which lengthens them.
The make-up of the female characters, always played, let us point out it, by men, is realistic. The actor softens his face with a mixture of pigments red and yellow, which gives a natural complexion. In the same way, there can be characters made up and equipped with way very naturalist; for example, a Brahman who will wear a long false beard and will have the face decorated by the traditional red point.
Before beginning his make-up, the actor masses the face with oil. Perspiration during the spectacle, which lasts all during the night, does not break up the make-up, gives him on the contrary a new glare. This care for the make-up appears with obviousness in the actors who express an anxious desire to compose their face in perfect lines. With patience and tenacity, they erase and remake certain parts of their make-up as long as they are not satisfied of the result.
The make-up defines a standard role and not an individual personality. The individuality of the face of the actor is drowned under this elaborate layer of colors and drawings of which the effect contributes to make the spectacle most impersonal possible, creating a halation of supernatural.
This supernatural character has two objectives: to strike the public, to facilitate the loss of personality of the actor. The stories treated by Kathakali put in scene a whole gallery of extra characters terrestrial and mythological. They are true religious parts, of mysteries. The situation, as well as the characters, do not belong any more to daily reality.
At the beginning, Kathakali made use of masks. Then it rejected them to transform the face into mask. The advantage is clear: while preserving an attractive and supernatural character, such a make-up leaves with the face of the actor his mobility and the possibility of an almost infinite range of facial expressions. This expressive richness of the face became one of the fundamental bases of the play of Kathakali.
EXERCISES OF THE EYES
The purpose of these exercises are control conscious of each movement, even tiny, of the eyes. The spacing of the eyelids using the fingers allows a major dilation of the eye and activates the muscles of the eyelids. The Indian actors are exerted at least an hour per day during eight years. At the end of this drive, they manage to give to the eyes a expressivity and an extraordinary capacity of dilation.
These exercises, to give results, must be accompanied by three symptoms: a very strong pain with the eyes, tears, and a painful stiffness of the muscles of the nape of the neck. It is also very important to push the irises in the corners well, in top and bottom.
Position of the subject: sat on its cross legs (padmasana), the very right trunk, the motionless head, elbows parallel with the ground.
1. One presses the annular one on the higher lashes and the nail of the inch on the lower lashes. One draws aside the eyelids as much as possible. One turns the iris around the ocular cavity slowly.
2. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers, by opening the eyes without raising as much as possible the eyebrows.
3. One draws aside the eyelids using the fingers. Movement of the iris in the only lower part of the ocular cavity of one corner than the other. Then in the only higher part.
4. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers.
5. One draws aside the eyelids using the fingers. Very, very slowly, the iris passes horizontally from one corner to the other of the eye. This hard passage approximately fifteen seconds. Then one repeats this exercise, but quickly.
6. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers.
9. One draws aside the eyelids using the fingers. The iris moves in diagonal of the left corner lower than the corner higher right and conversely of the corner higher right to the left lower corner. One changes then direction. This passage in diagonal is carried out initially very slowly, then very quickly.
10. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers.
11. One draws aside the eyelids using the fingers. The iris, in the center of the eye, moves from top to bottom vertically and upwards. Initially very slowly, then quickly.
12. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers.
13. One draws aside the eyelids using the fingers. On the basis of the left lower corner, the iris moves few millimetres in diagonal towards the top; it goes down again to the bottom with a few millimetres, and completes the movement in the corner lower right. The movement of the iris is here similar to a kind of zigzag.
14. The same exercise is repeated without the assistance of the fingers.
15. Open large eyes; irises in the center, but looking at downwards. One turns the head very slowly from left to right and conversely, the iris always in the center and looking at downwards.
16. Open large eyes. One from left to right moves the head in a series of movements staccati circulars. The irises precede the movement by the head of a split second.
17. Open large eyes. The irises are pointed on an imaginary object which is in a given place. The head turns slowly in any direction, but the irises remain always directed towards the object.
EXERCISES OF THE FACIAL MUSCULATURE
This facial gymnastics makes it possible to reach the control of each muscle of the face, therefore to exceed the stereotypes mimicry. It is very important to make here act simultaneously, and on rates/rhythms various, various muscles of the face whose movements are not synchronized in the life. For example to make very quickly tremble the eyebrows and very slowly muscles of the knobs. Or, to engage in a fast rate/rhythm the left part of the face, while the right part becomes animated very slow movements.
1. Rising of the lower eyelids, without moving the higher eyelids.
2. Rising of only one eyebrow.
3. Tremor of the two eyebrows, normally opened eyes.
4. Tremor of the eyebrows, open large eyes.
5. Tremor of the eyebrows, raised lower eyelids.
6. Tremor of the eyebrows while the head achieves movements.
7. Tremor of the eyebrows, combined with various expressions of the face (dislike, mistaken, hatred, joy, etc…).
8. Tremor of the eyebrows, while the face expresses a feeling and that the head achieves movements.
9. Tremor of the eyebrows accompanied by a tremor of the shoulders. These two tremors should not be synchronized.
10. Tremor of the eyebrows and horizontal displacement of the iris from left to right and conversely. The displacement of the iris is initially very slow, then very fast. To avoid the synchronization of the tremor of the eyebrows and the displacement of the iris.
11. Tremor of the eyebrows accompanied by the vertical displacement of from top to bottom iris and conversely. To avoid synchronization.
12. Tremor of the muscles of the knobs without moving the eyes and the mouth.
13. Tremor of the muscles of the corners of the mouth more and more quickly.
14. Tremor of the muscles of the chin without moving the corners of the mouth, tightening the teeth and engaging the muscles of the former part of the neck.
15. Tremor of the nostrils.
16. Vibrations of the lashes.
EXERCISE TO MAKE THE GLANCE EXPRESSIVE
The eyes large are opened and the head turns while observing, as if the irises led the movements of the head. Suddenly, of an abrupt movement, the head stops and the irises are fixed on an object who is not the decided “goal”. The head remains in its motionless position tandis that the irises move (slowly or quickly, according to the intention) towards the “goal” fixed in advance and reach it. Then only the head turns to the “goal” and at the time when it arrives on that Ci, the face assumes a particular expression (hatred, mistaken, joy, etc…).
A representation of Kathakali, by its duration and the complexity of the partition of signs and kinetic physico positions, requires of the actor an effort of concentration without which it would scramble the various phases and the parts of his play, which it is of the rate/rhythm or the body expression.
II is not necessary especially under considering the incredible effort physical of a play which rests entirely on a body dynamics and lasts several hours, with soli from one hour and even more. It is absolutely essential that the actor prepares before the representation in order to be able to concentrate, carry out his artistic task and to spare the saving in his energies.
In the Eastern theatre, one can distinguish the two shapes of psychic preparation of the actor. First is primarily founded on the religious sensitivity, as it is the case in Balinese Tjalonarang and Barong where the actors enter a true fright and have exceptional somatic reactions psycho.
The second psychic type of preparation is that which one finds in the Chinese Opera, Khon inhabitant of Thailand, Japanese No, like in Indian Kathakali: a major concentration on the tasks of the role, like a whole series of ceremonies concerned with the religion and the magic with value more or less esoteric, intended to excite the imagination and the sensitivity of the actor.
We will examine certain elements which structured psyché of the Kathakali actor and which, at the proper time, support in him a particular psychic state, making it ready to carry out its tasks.
1. To be a Kathakali actor, it is not a choice, it is a vocation. One subjects oneself to this “discipline” as of the most tender age. The child penetrates in the theatrical universe which is bordering on the religious universe. Its psyché and its character, in the process of formation, are receptive towards all them stimuli new entourage: the austere discipline of work and the absolute respect towards sound guru who initiates it in this work, it CAT it is to him strictly interdict to reveal the technical secrecies.
One cannot play, incarnate a divinity, without believing in it. The faith is the base even of this theatre. The child psychology is modelled in this sacral atmosphere, it is plunged continuously in mysterium tremendum and fascinans religion.
It is not any more one trade, but a mission, a priesthood. Eight years of training austere, hard, which goes almost beyond its forces, put to the test its “vocation”, mark it for the whole life, from a technical point of view as well as psychic. This long “initiation” conditions psyché and the attitude of the Kathakali actor while making him reach a sensitivity which is distinguished, by its depth, of that of the layman.
2. As one saw, three or four hours before the spectacle, the actors meet to begin their hard make-up. Silence the absolute reign, any communication is done while whispering. The actors expose themselves before entering the cloakroom where the lighting, provided by oil lamps (one finds the same ones on the scene), the met already in a religious atmosphere.
All the part of the make-up carried out by the actor is an extremely delicate task which requires of him a deep concentration. During this part, the actor sat in padmasana, the very right trunk. When it is delivered to the hands of the specialist, it is extended by ground, completely released, its breathing is deep and slow, the expiry lasting longer than the inspiration.
The completed make-up, the face of the actor is not that of a person: Hamlet or Phèdre… It is the face of God, a Demon, a mythological hero; under these supernatural features, there is to be mortal no more. If the actor looked himself in a mirror, it is not recognized. Same way, his/her comrades see to be erased under this attractive and “divine” mask the features of their partner.
As us the ethnologists learn it, the mask, in any ceremony, identifies the man with the god. “The rites of the ceremonies specific to very diverse countries have as a base the mimetic magic, the imitation by the costume and the mask, the gestures and the evolutions of the god ancestor of the tribe or the race, in order to substitute for the human heart the ancestral heart”. 
Of another share, according to certain psychologists and sociologists (see R. Caillois, The Man and plays), the mask causes to slacken the bonds of conscious and to make spout out the driven back subconscious impulses. This observation was used with the theatre at teaching ends by Charles Dullin who, with “the Workshop”, made work his actors the face hidden by a very simple mask: a bottom, long hair reversed on the face, a paper mask.
The Kathakali actor, by transforming his face into divine” and “supernatural ” mask “, is suddenly high with a new dignity which releases it from its personality of individual and places it subjectively also althoughobjectively with the row to be exceptional.
3. II is necessary to mention the complex role of the religious sensitivity which comes to be grafted on the artistic sensitivity. A Kathakali part is always a sacral representation: myths, legends, Epiphanies of divinities who face the emissary of the Evil to subjugate them and give to human example building and a reason to hope. Imagination, as well as the sensitivity of the actor and the public, are still, there low, receptive with the images and the religious values
As we already announced, before the representation, two actors carry out a dance of a purely religious nature to attract the favour of the divinity. Often, before beginning his make-up, the actor spends the hours in a temple, contemplating and requesting the divinity and sound guru (the Master which taught him its art) to assist it in the test which awaits it.
Any man is sensitive to the images and the symbols worked out by a secular tradition of the civilization in which it lives: they have the capacity to set in motion its imagination and to wake up the deepest layers of its subconscious. The Kathakali actor, conditioned as of his youth, draws with the source, fertile from the artistic point of view, the religious “mystery ”, and wraps any action of a spouting out flow of sacrality of his subconscious.
The theatre, in the Indies, is a reproduction, a “mimésis” of the cosmic process incarnated by the destructive creative dance of Shiva. The roots of this theatre are inserted in a religiosity in charge of esoteric significances and mythological attributes which escape our comprehension with us, Européens.
At the beginning, Kathakali was a form of yoga and it still keeps some, currently, of the outstanding features. chela is initiated by one guru during a long training not deprived of cruelty. That which approaches the divinity must move away from the human one; the technique becomes a means to reach metaphysics. This technique is an offering, a dedication, a ritual process which concerns Karma Yoga: the play is an act whose value even resides in oneself and who does not await a reward. The dance and the play are, in India, a form of prayer, spiritual operation, true process of psychic transmutation.
“The actor is an initiate; it was involved since its childhood, under the rigorous supervision of sound guru, to act like a medium for lila, the sport of the gods. It is seldom allowed to him to forget that its vocation is crowned. The colors of the make-up, the costumes, the hairstyles, the ornaments, the scene, the instruments musical and the light all are déifiés, and it venerates them as it venerates them Devas and sound guru. Moment when it enters the cloakroom until the moment when it removes its make-up, he acts like an excessively pious person in the temple… The play, with the direction which one gives to this word in India, is not a simple depersonnification, if perfect that is the illusion obtained. The actor is comparable with a yogi i.e. with that which follows the path of yoga (union) or of the mental concentration thanks to what the subject and the object, the faithful one and the divinity, the actor and his character, are based in a unit” .
Is it of mysticism? We, Européens, must take care not to judge according to our categories a form of art that only a hasty definition connects with ours.
“There were butterflies which had intended to speak about the flame. They decided to make the experiment of it. The first approaches the flame. The second effleure. The third flies over it. The fourth is thrown inside and burns itself there. His/her companions see his body being consumed, being transfigured, being based in a whole with the flame. It had really known the flame. But it could not about it tell the experiment any more”.
The logical truth of this tale should give rise to us to somewhat think and inform us on the secret tradition of the Eastern theatre. In Japan, in China, in Indonesia, in India, none guru will not reveal you the secrecies of his art. Mistrust, mistaken, intolerance or impossibility of communicating anything verbally?
Moreover, which is these “initiates”?
To compare the actor Kathakali and a European actor is as absurd as to compare Beethoven and a type-setter of ditties. The Kathakali actor devotes himself to his art as of his childhood. After eight years, if it is considered to be worthy by it , he becomes actor. But it has fixed wages, no theatre in which to engage; it plays three or four times per month, and in general the representations are free.
It did not see , like the European actor, of his trade. Of what does live it then? It does not have the possibility of exerting another trade, because it devotes several hours of its day to exercises of connection with its art. Quelquesuns become gurus, they open a school and take pupils. Others find what to remain while becoming being useful in the temples. In general, they live all in indigence.
4. The climate most favorable to the stimulation of the subconscious of the actor is created with the course the preparing. The face transfigured by the make-up, the open arms as for an invocation, the actor is let equip by two assistants.
The similarity with the ritual preparing of a prelate of high row is striking. Each part of its costume passed to the actor who it effleure with his face, the guard in his hands a few seconds and concentrates with veneration, before again passing it to its assistants. Each phase of this ceremony is accompanied by mantram, magic religious formulas that the actor repeats in a state of deep concentration .
The most solemn moment is the adjustment of the majestic crown. The actor takes it and requests sound guru to assist it. Then, it raises a last prayer with the divinity and, of a solved gesture, it places it on its head, binds the ribbons which fix it at its neck, and here it is the ready one. It advances towards the scene of a step deformed by the costume, the folded legs, the right head, accompanied by tinkling by the small bells to its ankles.
5. Finally the ceremony takes place of Tiranoku, to lower it curtain.
The actor, on the scene, is hidden behind this great piece of fabric coloured tended by two young people. There behind, it dances on the spot at increasingly fast intervals.
“ The frantic dance supports this split personality by its obsessing rate/rhythm which acts on the nerve centres and awakes with deepest subconscious of the deadened instincts” .
This dance is accompanied by cries and howls apparently without any direction. Or they a hidden direction or layman has?
“In the magic incantatrice, a formula of conspiracy or imprecation has the virtue to bind to the will of that which pronounces it under the ritual conditions (words, incantations, rate/rhythm) the beings and the things in the world of in top and the world of in bottom” .
Besides we know the role of the voice like pure sonority to reach and model certain physical actions. Thus, in certain exercises of the Chinese traditional theatre, the actors reach a state of paroxysm using cries and almost animal howls.
It is useless to ask the actor which point it is conscious of its transformation. When I put this question, I received only evasive answers. They did not have any not conscience really, or wanted they to hide it to me with me, layman?
On this subject, me was told the history of Rowed and Khara.
In the village of Tiru Vilva Mala, as a Hefty fellow, one does not play any more a Kathakali theatre. Several years ago, during a representation, was an artistic tragedy misunderstanding. On the scene, the Khara demon caused large Rama. It scoffed it, insulted it, ridiculed it, praising its own capacity. Khara, in its fury and its rage, seemed ready with all to destroy, it was not more a one actor playing a part, it was the demon him even. Suddenly, on the scene, Rama emerges from the lamp crowned in the form of flash. A few seconds of dazzling and, to the frightened spectators, appeared a corpse, that of lying the Khara actor on the scene. God himself had let himself take by the sincere fury of the provocation.
Let us have considering, on our scenes of Europe, a Gift Juan whose provocation attracted the lightnings of the Divinity, and who could not be raised to greet the public?
(This text was written in 1963, after a stay of the six month old author in India)“The Kathakali theatre”, in Buffooneries (“Theatre of the East, Kathakali, Odissi “), n°9, 1983, pp. 13-59. The photographs were carried out by Eugenio Barba at the time of his stay.
 Balwant Gargi, Tieatr I taniets Indii, Mosccou, 1963. Page 61: “In all the time of his action, the Kathakali actor does not say a word, but its silence is similar with the silence of the yogis, saturated with energies”.
 Of the long feathers, like ornaments of the hairstyles, are also used in the Chinese traditional theatre. Similar with “mobiles”, they underline their vibrations each movement of the actor.
 Sarla Sehgal, The dance in India, New Dehli, 1958, page 24.
 Mr. Bouisson, Magic, its great rites, its history, Paris, 1958, page 87.
 Bharata lyer, Kathakali, London, 1955 pages 25 and 26.
 In the Chinese traditional theatre, the young actors who after several years of drive, are not able to discharge their artistic tasks perfectly, are incorporated in the theatre like deputies of scene, assistants, mechanics.
 L. Chochod, Occultism and Magic in Far East, Paris, 1955. Page 199: “In yoga, the mantram are phonetic combinations whose sonority determines the awakening of certain internal forces of the yogi”.
 Mr. Bouisson, COp. cit., pages 87 and 91.
 Mr. Bouisson, COp. cit., pages 87 and 91.