India: Kathakali

Kathakali is a stylized Kerala dance-drama known for its make-up, costumes, and body movements with percussion. There are no words; the story is conveyed through hand gestures, expressions, and dance. Traditionally Kathakali begins at night and ends in the early morning, but my homestay directed me to a theatre with a condensed version and front row seats. I arrived an hour early to watch the actors apply their makeup.

What amazed me about Kathakali was the style of dance-drama. It gave particular emphasis to the eyes, nose, and lips. Watching actors dance with their face like this was unreal.To be a master of this art requires a minimum of a six year formal education along with many years studying Kalaripayattu – the martial art of Kerala.

The virtuous protagonist (pachcha) for the show always wear predominately green makeup.

Streaks of red in an otherwise green-painted face symbolize villainy or evilness.

Excessively evil characters have predominantly red makeup and a red beard. While the show I saw was all male (including the below character on the right), since the 1970s women have been allowed to train in Kathakali.

The drama I watched involved the evil man (above) forcing the woman to love him, until her father (below) finds out and inevitably kills him. There would be blood.

As soon as I get ahold of decent internet in May, I’ll upload a video of the eye/nose/lip dancing because it’s hard to explain just how amazing it was. All in all, the show capped off an amazing stay in India.

Rehearsal for Murder Trailer

The Barron Collier Drama Club proudly presents…

Rehearsal for Murder

Evening performances are at 7:30 next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Special Matinee is at 2:30 on Saturday. Tickets are $7 at the door.


The play opens in an empty New York theatre. The playwright has supposedly brought in actors to read bits and pieces of a new play, a murder mystery. As the readings unfold, we begin to see that everyone on the stage was involved in the last play by the same playwright exactly one year ago—everyone, that is, except the lead actress who was engaged to the playwright and mysteriously committed suicide; or did she?