Perungattur P. Rajagopal
Perungattur P. Rajagopal is a seasoned Kattaikkuttu actor, director and playwright from a family of traditional performers. When he was ten, he joined his father’s theatre company and dropped out of school. Now, under his stewardship the Gurukulam offers talented rural students a dual curriculum. This curriculum gives equal importance to an all-round artistic training in Kattaikkuttu theatre (vocal and acting), instrumental music and make-up and a fully-fledged formal school education (grades 3 to 12). A third important component of the Gurukulam is comprehensive care. This includes a balanced nutrition, personal hygiene, basic dental and medical care and counselling. At present Rajagopal is the Executive Director of the Kattaikkuttu Sangam and the Artistic Leader of the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam
Hanne M. de Bruin
Hanne M. de Bruin holds a Ph.D. in Indology and performance studies from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. In addition to her published study on Kattaikkuttu: The Flexibility of a South Indian Theatre Tradition (1999), she has provided the first-ever Tamil-English translation of an all-night Kattaikkuttu play Karna Moksham or Karna’s Death (1998). She has co-edited books on Indian popular theatre and the role of women performers. In 2002 Hanne left an academic career to work full-time for the Sangam and Gurukulam as a program director and principal fund raiser. She is also involved in the Gurukulam’s new productions as a dramaturge and costume designer. In addition to these functions, Hanne is a source of information and support for both the staff and the children. The well-being of the children is paramount for everyone.
For Hanne her practical work and academic labor are inseparable. From time to time she returns to the academia to reflect on the reality of the performing arts as an extremely competitive field of forces within which Kattaikkuttu is situated. Most recently she spent four month in 2016-2017 and 2018 as a fellow of the International Research Center for the Interweaving of Performance Cultures connected to the Free University in Berlin. Her publications help create awareness of Kattaikkuttu’s tacit knowledge practices and the challenges faced by current performers.