"The Mythical World of Kings"
Through her Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Research award Sue Rees traveled to India this winter, where her research is based at the Kattaikkuttu Sangam.
Kattaikkuttu Sangam is a performing arts organization located near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, India. They integrate liberal education and the performing arts to promote kattaikkuttu, a region theater form, and ensure sustainable careers for its professional performers.
Rees has undertaken documenting workshops by UK based storyteller Craig Jenkins with students of the School on Gender Representations in Tamil films, Tom Bogdan’s workshop, and final performances of a number of musical compositions including those by Meredith Monk.
She has also been working on a documentary primarily focused on P. Rajagopal, an actor, director, and writer and who started the Sangam (Union) of kuttu actors in 1990, and became a kuttu actor at the age of 10 years old.
Kattaikkuttu is a traditional theater form unique to the region, which, according to the organization's website, "uses song, music, dance, make-up and costumes, drama and ritual. All-night performances are powerful, high-energy, intense and long duration events that temporarily recreate the mythical world of kings, gods and sages on earth."
Further documentation of kattaikkuttu performances have included a 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM performance of Abhimanyu by students and professional of the school, extracts from Krishna’s Embassy, Subhadra’s Marriage, and Arjuna’s Tapas and a documentation of a performance of an extract from Dice and Disrobing by the Shri Renukambal Kattaikkuttu Manram Company, Siruvanchipattu.
Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Research awards support the work of teachers and researchers in India. Through this program, Rees will be returning to the Kattaikkuttu Sangam in late 2017 to complete the project.