Gopalan Nair Venu

Kutiyattam practitioner (India)

Gopalan Venu is a performer, teacher and scholar of Kutiyattam (Sanskrit theatre) and a senior disciple of Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar. He is also the founder of Natanakairali (Research and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts) and co-founder of Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam (Training Centre for Kutiyattam). 

His major contributions are his adaptations of Mahakavi Kalidasa’s plays Abhijnana Sakuntalam and Vikramorvaseeyam, and Bhasa’s play Urubhangam and Dutavakyam for Kutiyattam. He has authored 16 books on the performing arts of Kerala, including Production of a Play in Kutiyattam (1989), Into the World of Kutiyattam, Kathakali, Kutiyattam and other Performing Arts (2005) and Language of Kathakali. 

At the Abhinayakalari (Acting Laboratory) established in 2000, he has developed a training methodology for “Navarasa Sadhana” which is the systematic and daily practice of the nine basic emotions by actors with the aim of strengthening their capacities for producing this aesthetical experience. 

Venu is also a visiting Master Teacher of Kutiyattam at the National School of Drama in Delhi, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune as well as to ITI (Singapore). Venu has been selected for several honours and awards, which include “Kerala Sahitya Academy Award”, “Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award”, “Kerala Kalamandalam Award”, Painkulam Rama Chakyar Smaraka Puraskaram (2009) and the prestigious “Nikkei Asia Prize for culture”(Japan) 2007.


Kapila Venu

Kutiyattam practitioner (India)

Kapila Venu is a devoted practitioner of Kutiyattam from Kerala in India. A gifted performer honed by years of training under the doyen of Kutiyattam, the late Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar and her father, Kutiyattam exponent, G Venu; among other noted Gurus. 

Kapila approaches her practice by maintaining the purity of the technique and aesthetics of the art form, whilst constantly trying to transcend the limitations of the traditional practice by breathing contemporary relevance into it.

She has been performing Kutiyattam and Nangiar Koothu both as a solo performer and together with the ensembles at Natanakairali and Ammannur Gurukulam across the world since 1997. Kapila has also been part of artistic collaborations with several renowned artistes from around the world including Min Tanaka (Japan), Wally Cardona (USA), Peter Oskarson (Sweden), Hanna Tuulikki (Scotland) to name a few. 

She is a teacher of Kutiyattam at National School of Drama, New Delhi and Intercultural Theatre Institute, Singapore. She is also a staff artiste and teacher at the Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam. Kapila is also a director at Natanakairali – Research, Training and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts.