Kathakali conquers Don Quixote

Margi Kathakali Centre gives an enduring performance of the Spanish classic by infusing Koodiyattam recital with European theatre

Published: 05th July 2016 05:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th July 2016 05:23 AM   |  A+A-


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Don Quixote, the Spanish classic, is not an easy read. Hence, to perform a Kathakali recital based on it not can’t have been a cake walk. But the performers of city based Margi Kathakali Centre presented the entire recital with elan by infusing elements from Koodiyattam and European theatre. After their inaugural performance at Margi at West Fort on Sunday, they staged their second performance at Karthika Thirunal auditorium at East Fort on Monday.

The troupe, comprising 17 artists, have been invited to perform at a function to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of ‘Don Quixote’, authored by Miguel de Cervantes. The function will also mark the 150th anniversary of India-Spain relationship. The troupe will be performing at Madrid, Barcelona, Valladolid etc.

A tough task

It was a tough task for P Venugopalan, vice president of Margi, who was entrusted with the huge task of writing a script from the novel that runs into 1,500 pages.

Scene one opened with Spanish noble Alonso Quixano, played by Nelliyode Vasudevan Nampoothiri, entering the stage all pepped-up reading books on chivalry. He struts around posing as knight. The artist wore a red costume with a tall hat to present the character. The dress style had been adapted from the European theatre.

In the second scene Quixano, who is now Don Quixote, sets out for adventure. Margi Pradeep dons Quixote’s ‘kathi vesham’, who encounters his first challenge, where he rescues a labourer, played by Margi Suddep, from his master, played by Margi Suresh. Quixote then recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza performed by Margi Vijaykumar, as his squire. Rustic Panza has been presented like a vidushaka of Koodiyattom with his moustache pointing downwards. Kalamandalam Balakrishnan and Parthasarathi played the part of the giant wind mill which Quixote mistakes as demon. The former also reappeared as a lion in one of the scenes. Margi Balasubramanian entered the stage as the Knight of Mirrors and engaged the protagonist in a fight. The performance was supported well by singers Pathiyoor Sankaran Kutty and Kalamandalam Vishnu.


Experts at Margi, who have also adapted and performed European classics such Iliad, Othello and King Liar, say that compared to the others performing Don Quixote was more challenging. Every scene has been worked upon painstakingly and utmost attention to details made the play a visual treat.

Even the music had been tweaked to suit the fusion under the guidance of the Spanish team, which came to Margi to commission the project. They wanted the songs, music etc to be tuned in such a way so as to support the emotions of the character. Pathiyoor Shankaran Kutty composed the music, ‘melam’ or the supporting instruments was by chenda teacher Margi Krishnadas and madhalam by Margi Ratnakaran. Make up to had a special role in making the performance a grand success. Margi Raveendran Nair and Margi Sreekumar did an excellent job in the segment.

The team will stage seven performances at the Almagro International Classical Theatre Festival, which will begin on July 22.

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