The Company
Audience
Rituals
Music
Kattaikkuttu stories are about kings, princes, queens, demons, sages and gods. Heroic male characters wear crowns, shoulder and breast ornaments and wide skirts.
In Tamil the wooden ornaments are called 'kattai' - that's where the theatre's name comes from: Kattai-k-kuttu (theatre in which the characters wear kattai ornaments). All Kings carry a small wooden sword, which they swing in the air. When they dance they make fast pirouettes. These are called 'kirikkis'.
Traditionally only men played Kattaikkuttu. There were no women in a company. Women characters are played by men. Some of the actors have long hair and their ears pierced to make it easier to dress up as a lady.
Every Kattaikkuttu performance has a funny character. He is called 'Kattiyakkaran' or 'Clown'. If you don't understand the literary dialogues of the royal characters, listen to the clown. He translates it into the dialect of the audience. And above all, he makes fun of everybody, himself included.