Folk Theatre
 
 
  Yakshagana
 
 
Ýakshagana

Yakshagana is a Theatre Form of South India. 'Yaksh' means demigods associated with Kubera, God of wealth and 'Gana' is song. Thus Yakshagana means songs of the demigods.

Yakshagana is lively, fast-paced form in which songs, dances and improvised dialogue mix according to a prescribed structure. Yakshagana is popular with the rural audiences. At the heart of Yakshagana are the poetic songs (prasanga) sung by the chief musician (bhagavata), who thus controls the pace of the performance. The most popular of these songs have been transcribed and published, even those from hundreds of years ago. With their particular melody (raga) and metre intact, they constitute a major part of the historical record of regional Indian dramatic literature.

Performance
Improvised dialogue (matu) by the actor-dancers expands on the content of the songs. Until recently, this portion was not written down because it changed from night to night and from actor to actor. Most prasnaga are based on the stories from the great Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and from the purana and concern serious events from the lives of well known epic figures. Humor is added in the performance by the clowns (hasyagar) through comic antics and witty remarks.

Stage
The acting area (rangasthala), a space near the house of the patron, may be a paddy field cleared of stubble, or the open ground in front of a temple compound. Mango leaves, flowers, coconuts, plantains leaves and colored paper provide a festive, simple decoration.

The Team
15 people are required to produce a performance and a minimum five musicians are needed. The chief musician sings and plays the maddale drum, while standing between the musicians a man plays shruti, simplified version of harmonium which keeps the underlying pitch necessary to guide the singer's melodies. A chende drummer accompanies him. Costumes and make-up for the Yakshagana of Andhra are unique. Big heart-shaped headdresses are worn by the warriors, crowns of wood covered with tinsel paper are worn by kings and large impressive headdresses are worn by demons whose spiky make-up distorts the actor's facial features beyond recognition.

Origin
Yakshagana of Andhra Pradesh originated in the 14th century and it began as a dance interpretation of one character who took many roles. Later it added a second character, a female counterpart. In this phase, the male was called Yaksha and the female was known as Yakshi. In course of time a clown was introduced to provide humor and finally a fortuneteller came into the picture.
 
 
 

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