In October 1991, twenty-five theatre
enthusiasts comprising of actors, musicians, artists and scholars
started working together under the direction of Chandradasan, a
prominent theatre person, at Kochi, Kerala, India. This theatre
company named as Lokadharmi has flourished as one of the important
centre for theatre training, research and performance in India.
The name Lokadharmi is taken from
Natyasastra, the ancient Indian manual on theatre written by Bharatha
around 100 BC, a complete book on theatre that classifies and codifies
dramatic structure, dramatic language, poetry, aesthetics, actor training,
music, construction of theatre house and even the definition of a
true spectator. It classifies theatre into Natyadharmi (stylized,
abstract and based on an elaborate system of sign language that appeals
to a connoisseur) and Lokadharmi (popular, closer to realistic, folk
or the style of the people. It also means ‘concerned about the
world and its affairs’)
The beginning was the theatre training school,
where actors were given intense training in acting and introduced them
to the different acting systems from all over the world that included
the traditional Indian theatre like that of Kathakali, Koodiyattam,
and many folk forms like Mudiyettu, Padayani, Theyyam and a lot other
narrative theatre forms widely existing in Kerala. Also the techniques
from Greek Theatre, Theatre of Shakespeare, Modern theatre starting
from Stanislavski and the method acting, Artuad and the theatre of Cruelty,
Grotowski and the physical theatre, Brecht and epic theatre, to the
newer experiments done by Peter Brook and Eugene Barba are used. While
doing all this at and at the same time rooted deep in the theater and
performance tradition of the land.
The study was also on the history and envelopment of theater all over
through world; the change in perceptions of theatre and also on the
different ages mould a theatre was undertaken. For convenience and clarity
we designed a cyclic format for training that is broadly divided into
different phases of one year duration focusing on Indian classical and
Traditional Theatre, European classic theatre, the Kerala Theatre, Contemporary
Indian Theatre, And the Modern Theatre all over the world.
The theatre training school has its regular sections on all Sundays
and has been on the run without any break from October 1991. Faculty
from all over the world has visited the school and done Workshops to
train our artists.
Also Lokadharmi undertakes extension workshops at rural areas, schools
and colleges to initiate theatre awareness among aspiring artists and
actors in the school form the repertory of the group, which is the
performance unit of Lokadharmi, and has emerged as one of the important
theatre centers of the country. The important productions include
Karnnabharam (The weight on Karnna, an adaptation of a Sanskrit play
by Bhasa), Chathankattu (an adaptation of William Shakespeare The
Tempest), Poranadi (The outcast, a play by K.N.Panicker) Nandan Kadha
(The story of Nandan, adaptation of the Tamil play by Indira Parthasarathy,
Medea (adaptation of the Greek classic by Euripides), Charandas Chor
(a children's version of the play by Habib Tanvir), and an eco political
version of Macbeth all in Malayalam.
These productions were shown widely in the important theatre festivals
all over India, winning popular appeal, critical acclaim and many
coveted awards. The group was invited to Greece on August 2001 to
the circle of south earth – an International Festival on Ancient
Greek Drama. The performance of Medea in the cities of Pelos, Kalamatta,
And Athens were accepted with much enthusiasm and rave reviews from
the audience and critics.
These productions have won the best play, best director and best actor
awards from the National Multilingual theatre festivals 1995and 1996
at Cuttack Orissa, Pataliputra Natya Mahotsav Patna, Bihar 1997and
Kerala Amateur theatre festival Thiruvananthapuram 1997. Lokadharmi
has performed in many national theatre festivals in various parts
of India and also international theatre Olympiad in Cuttack 1996 and
To find out and renew our
theatrical language regular research are being done at this laboratory.
These enquiries are theoretical as well as application oriented. One
of the attempts is taken by actors is to create one-actor performances,
for smaller groups of intimate audiences in which the acting ability
of the performer and the sensibility of the spectator are renewed. The
performance attempts to attain emotional ecstasies and creates an ambience
that is beyond the current practices of theater. Also research projects
are undertaken on various performance aspects. The various symposia,
seminars, lectures, demonstrations, video projections etc organised
by Lokadharmi with eminent scholars and practicing artists from all
over the world, addressing the various issues, themes, topics and premises
continue this search to renew the theatre idiom and practices. A theatre
library has been set up under the name of 'Lokadharmi Nataka Granthasala.'
Lokadharmi dreams the emergence
of a village theatre culture with immense energy rooted in Indian ethos
and tradition and depicting Indian realities.
- 1991 - Lokadharmi is launched.
- 1992 - a ten-day theatre workshop with
the veteran director Kavalam Narayana Panikker and the production of
the play Janame jaya in the workshop.
- 1993 - The play Karnnabharam is premiered.
- 1994 - Organizing of a festival of three
plays Kalo Basti, Andhakarer Dheu, and Ahalya performed by Alternate
Living Theatre group Calcutta, directed by Probir Guha in Bengali language,
- 1995 - Lokadharmi performs in the All India
multi lingual theatre festival at Cuttack Orissa. It’s first ever
performance outside Kerala. Wins the National award for the best play
and best direction from the 110 plays from all over India.
- 1995 - A workshop on masks, its use in
traditional theatre of Kerala and its application in contemporary theatre.
- 1995 - Production of Chathankattu an Indianised
adaptation of The Tempest by Shakespeare is premiered.
- 1995 - Performance of the play Karnnabharam
at the Festival of Letters Bangalore organised by Sahitya Academy New
- 1996 - Performance of Karnnabharam in the
International Theatre Olympiad in Cuttack, Orissa.
- 1996 - A workshop on Mime with Gautam Majumdar
(NSD, New Delhi).
- 1996 - The play Poranadi, a play written
by Kavalam Narayana Panikker in Malayalam is premiered.
- 1997 - A national Theatre festival is organised
in December with the collaboration of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy
at Tripunithura. The plays Seelavathi (Kannada play by Lalitha Kala
Ranga Mariammanahalli, Karnataka, directed by M.B.Somanna;), Rai (Hindi
play presented and directed by IPTA, Bhilai, Madhya Pradesh); Galileo
(Tamil play by APTIST Pondicheri directed by Shibu.S.Kottaram;), Pancharathram
(Malayalam play by School of drama Thrissur, directed by Ramesh Varma),
Paani (Assamese play by Assam Acting Institute Gowhatty, directed by
Indra Bania); Mavelipootham and Mandan Sipai (Children s plays in Malayalam
presented by Rangachethana Thrissur directed by K.V.Ganesh), Manthareya
Antharanga, (a Kannada monologue by Kalyani Bangalore, directed by Sandhya.S.)
Meenai Maroo Louba- (Manipuri play by Elite Group of Performing Artists
Imphal, Manipur, directed by Soibamcha Indrakumar) and Poranadi (performed
by Lokadharmi directed by Chandradasan) have been performed. Also folk
forms Ayyappan pattu, Kathakali, Seethankan Thullal, Ayyappan Thiyattu,
Bihu dance, Yakshagana, Koodiyattam, Manipuri folk dance, Mohinayattam
and Mudiyettu were showcased.
- 1998 - performance of the play Poranadi
in International Theatre Olympiad, Cuttack .
- 1998 - A workshop on Acting in Classical
theatre and its adaptation in contemporary theatre. Margi Madhu, eminent
Koodiyattam artist collaborated with actors, directors and technicians
from contemporary theatre along with the trained actors from Lokadharmi
to exchange skills, techniques and methodology at Tripunithura in July
- 1999, - An improvisation workshop with
Tuire Hindikka, Pirkko Kurikka (both from Finland).
- 1999 - Premiere of the Malayalam adaptation
of Nandan Kadha by the Tamil Playwright Indira Parthasarathy.
- 1999 - The initiation of the Natakasala,
an interactive body between artists and audience aimed to create a heightened
theatre awareness, through sponsoring of productions would be followed
by critical discussions between the Natakasala members and the visiting
directors and actors.
- 1999 – performance of Karnnabharam
in Pataliputra Natya Mahotsav, Patna, Bihar, 1999 organised by East
Zone Cultural center and Dept. Of Culture Govt. Of Bihar.
- 1999 – Hosting of the Finnish play
Louhi and the Golden Girl performed by Theatre Pussuki, Finland, directed
by Tuire Hindikka.
- 1999 - Performance of Nandan Kadha in Nataka
Bharathi – National Theatre Festival-2000, organised by Kerala
Sangeetha Nataka Academy, at Eranakulam.
- 2000 - A ten-day workshop on Children's
theatre at Tripunithura.
- 2001 – Premiere of the Indian adaptation
of the Greek Classic Medea by Euripides directed by Chandradasan in
- 2001 - Lokadharmi visited Greece with its
Indianised adaptation of Medea, the Greek classic by Euripides to participate
and perform in “the circle of south earth”-an International
Festival on Ancient Greek Drama from August 24 to September 1 and performed
in the Ancient theatres in the cities of Pelos, Kalamatta and in the
Petra theatre of Athens. Critics, scholars and the audience accepted
this first ever-overseas performance of Lokadharmi with great enthusiasm
Lokadharmi in Greece
- 2001 A ten-day workshop on Noh theatre
and its encounter with the martial art form of Kerala- Kalarippayattu
- with Emily Curtis (Noh artist from Australia living in Tokyo, Japan)
and Narayanan Embranthiri the Kalarippayattu guru.
- 2001 - Organization of the international
festival at Aluva Kerala in which, Medea (Theatre Fiasko, Finland, dir.
Tuire Hindikka), Karimchuzhi (Thalai-k-kol Pondicheri, directed by V.Arumukam)
Medea (By Lokadharmi, directed by Chandradasan) was performed.
- 2001 – A one month workshop at Honnali
Karnataka for Holeranga, an eco theatre group and production in an environment
theatre of the Kannada play Maduve Hennu (The Bride, A Kannada play
written by H.S.Shivaprakash, art by Sudheer Babu and directed by Chandradasan.)
- 2002 - A workshop on Chau dance and Choreography
with Pandit Gopal Prasad Dubey (the Chau guru from Saraikkala, Jharghand).
- 2002 - Performance of the play Medea in
the fourth Bharath Rang Mahotsav organised by NSD at New Delhi in March
- 2002 - A ten-day Children's workshop at
Edappally in May 2002 and the eventual launching of a permanent Children's
theatre wing under Lokadharmi, named Mazhavillu (Rainbow). This group
meets on all Saturdays and does plays, improvisations, and theatre games
for children under the age of 17.
- 2002 A five day workshop on physical theatre
by Patrick Vella and Clare Agius from curtain raiser theatre group Malta
Europe, was organised. The performance of The Kandor, a play devised
and enacted by the Curtain raiser theatre group was part of the workshop.
- The play Medea was performed in The Multi
lingual Theatre festival organised by Progressive dramatic association
at Pune, Maharashtra in October and also in the National Festival by
chorus Ahmedabad, Gujarat in November.
- 2002 premiere of the children's version
of Charandas Chor (Charandas, the thief) by Habib Tanvir performed by
- 2002. An eco political performance of Macbeth
directed by Chandradasan on a special space designed was premiered on
20th December at Changampuzha Park Edappally, Kochi as part of the International
- 2003 - Mazhavillu, the children’s
theatre wing performs Charandas Chor in The Soorya festival Trivandrum,
International Children’s Drama Festival New Delhi organised by
NIPA and IATA Copenhagen Denmark and also in Sooryotsav Cochin.
- 2003. The premiere of Andha yugam, a multi
media production based on andha yug, a lyrical play written by Dharmaveer
Bharathi, translated from Hindi by A Aravindakshan
and directed by Sudheer Babu.
Lokadharmi is governed by a group of
eminent theatre persons, artists, journalists and scholars. The
members to the board of directors are Chandradasan (artistic director),
Dr.K.G.Paulose, Theatre critic, Scholar, and Organizer (administrative
director and Chairman), T.A. Satyapal, Artist, Organizer and social
worker (vice chairman) Sudheer Babu, actor, Musician and artist
(Secretary), V.R.Selvaraj, Actor, Musician, and Folk Artist (Joint-secretary)
Sunilkrishnan. N.K , Artist, (Treasurer) and Jeejabhai K.V. artist
and costumer, Vijayan.P.M, Actor, folk artist, K.Pradeep, Journalist
and Theatre Critic ( members to the board of directors).
Also we have an eminent Advisory Board
constituting of Kavalam Narayana Panikker, (Playwright, Director,
and Poet), Dr. Vayala Vasudevan Pillai (Playwright, Director, Academician),
T.M. Abraham (Playwright, and Director), Pandit Gopal Prasad Dube
(Chau dancer and choreographer), Ramesh Varma (Actor and Director)
Thankom Vasudevan Nair (Actress) and T. Kaladharan (Artist).