The Kattaikkuttu Sangam was established in 1990 when P. Rajagopal invited representatives of regional Kattaikkuttu theatre companies to meet in Kanchipuram. Seventeen professional Kattaikkuttu performers responded to his call. The immediate goal of the Sangam was then, and still is, to connect performers of different companies representing different performance styles and geographical regions. It also provides them with a platform where they can share and promote their professional and artistic interests. Since its inception, P. Rajagopal and his Dutch wife Hanne M. de Bruin have been the principal movers and the shakers of the organization.
P. Rajagopal (1953) is a Kattaikkuttu actor, playwright, director, inspiring leader and innovative Guru of the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam and a strong advocate of opening up the theatre to girls and women. He has been performing professionally since the age of ten, first in his father's company and later as the principal actor and owner of his own theatre company. In addition to forty years of experience on the rural stage, Rajagopal regularly performs and teaches outside Kattaikkuttu's village context in India and abroad. Rajagopal is the author of two original all-night plays in Tamil, Pancha Bhutam and Veriyattam allatu Tantira Kuratti, and one shorter, innovative play Milky Ocean. He adapted a Rabindranath Tagore play to the Tamil stage with the title Deliverance. Rajagopal's play for children, The Magic Horse, has been translated into Kannada and English (published by Tulika publishers as Aiyappan & The Magic Horse). He is a recipient of the Kalaimamani award of the government of Tamil Nadu (2007) and the Friends of Dakshinachitra Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts (2010).
Hanne M. de Bruin (1959) studied Indology and received her Ph.D. for her research on the Kattaikkuttu theatre at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. She has published widely on Indian popular theatre, women performers and Indian culture and translated the all-night Kattaikkuttu play Karna Moksham into English. Since its establishment in 1990 Hanne has been the principal fundraiser and facilitator of the Kattaikkuttu Sangam and the Gurukulam.
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