||One of the theatre forms generally
described as folk but possessing a strong classical connection is the Yakshagana.
It is a typical folk form of drama in this region, just as Kathakali
is in neighbouring Kerala. Unlike the stylised costumes and masks of Kathakali,
Yakshagana is a true people's theatre, commonly staged in the paddy fields
at night and the themes are the same as all over India, the Ramayana,
the Mahabharata and mythological tales from
the Puranas. In predominantly rural areas with little or no transportation,
Yakshagana enjoys immense popularity and its
exponents are honoured just as great stage artistes are.
Although the name signifies the music of celestial beings, Yakshagana
is an amalgam of the sky with the earth. here is both mystery and robustness
about this form in which singing and drumming merge with dancing, and words
with gestural interpretation, and players clad in costumes of striking
colour and contours. It is the cherished cultural possession of the coastal
districts of Karnataka.
Dr. K.S. Karanth is the foremost authority
on Yakshagana and has been working on all
its aspects, amely--dance, music, and literature, since 1930. He
has led the way to a deep and systematic study of this art form.
He has spent decades travelling to remote villages within Karnataka
to inspect and study every Yakshagana manuscript,
the earliest going back to A.D. 1651. With his fine literary judgement
and aesthetic sensibility, he has traced the changing trends in the
performance of Yakshagana. He has interacted with hundreds of Yakshagana
artistes to find out what customs in training and interpretation
had prevailed earlier and had fallen into disuse and deserved to
be resuscitated. He has put together his findings in the shape of two
standard books Yakshagana-Bayalata (1958)
in Kannada, and Yakshagana in Kannada and
English (1975). The present volume is a revised edition of the earlier
book, with additional material and illustrations.