Culture & Litrature

Yakshagana shows to be shorter

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DHARMASTHALA, July 17, 2013

In tune with the changing times, Yakshagana, a major art form of Karnataka believed to be more than two centuries old, is all set for a significant change: the overnight performances will be cut short.

The ground was set to reduce the overnight performances to shorter duration at a meeting here on Tuesday as many a stakeholders of Yakshagana voted for the move.

Night shows

Different touring troupes perform night-long shows in the coastal and Malnad belt. A majority of professional and amateur artistes, managers of touring troupes, academicians, critics and other promoters of Yakshagana said the change was inevitable, as overnight shows have failed to retain audience from late evening until morning. They said the majority of audience left the shows midway.

Ideal time

Many participants suggested that ideal time for staging shows would be from 6.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. By doing so, children, women, employees, workers and the general public could attend to their regular chores the next day. But the challenge before the stakeholders was to retain the tradition of the art without compromising with the text and its essence, they said. The former president of Karnataka Yakshagana Bayalata Academy M. L. Samaga, said that while reducing the duration of the shows, there was a need to change the structure of the presentation by retaining the essence of the text.

Artiste-cum-critic M. Prabhakar Joshi said that there were 35 Yakshagana melas now. It is possible to present a usual overnight show in two-and-half hours, he said.

Secretary of Yakshagana Kalaranga Murli Kadekar said that among the touring troupes only two troupes, Saligrama mela and Perdoor mela, performed tent shows (shows staged by pitching a tent and collecting entree fee from viewers) now. The rest were ‘bayalata’ shows (sponsored shows with no fee).

Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala D. Veerendra Heggade, who managed the more-than-a-century old Manjunatheswara Krupaposhitha Yakshagana Mandali, a touring troupe of professional artistes, had convened the meeting.

He said the Dharmasthala mela would continue to perform overnight shows for the 2013-14 touring season (November-May) as some issues arising out of reducing the shown duration would have to be addressed first before implementing the change.

Mr. Heggade said the change would be inevitable due to various factors. The troupes also faced law and order issues (complaints from people to stop loudspeakers during the night), lack of open grounds for staging shows, lack of audience, and security issues.

P. Kishen Hegde, who owns one tent mela among the five melas he manages, and Y. Karunakara Shetty, who owns one tent mela among his two melas, said they would continue to present overnight shows of tent melas. But they were ready to reduce the duration of ‘bayalata’ shows.

Mr. Heggade said another meeting would be convened before taking a final decision on the issue.

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