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 training School
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 art lovers.