Kattaikkuttu Sangam
Transforming Culture
Transforming Lives

Music Theatre of South India

Theatre's name

The theatre derives its name from the special ornaments called kattai or kattai camankal. Kattai ornaments are typically worn by heroic male characters, such as kings, gods and demons. These ornaments represent the heroic qualities, power and royal status of the wearers. They consist of head, shoulder and breast ornaments made of wood and inlaid with mirrors or decorated with coloured paper. The kattai lay down the entrance of a character on the stage behind a curtain and determine the character's movements and dramatic behaviour.

The kattai ornamentation and the elaborate make-up that goes with it distinguish Kattaikkuttu from other theatre genres popular in Tamil Nadu and in South India.

Kattaikkuttu is also known as Terukkuttu or street (teru/theru) theatre (kuttu/kuthu). Kattaikoothu, Therukoothu and Terukoothu are alternative ways to spell the theatre's name. Among urban theatre workers and academics there is an ongoing debate about the name by which the theatre should be called.

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