Dr. H.K. Ranganath in his work ‘The Karnataka Theatre’. The topography of the costal Karnataka is dominated by the Arabian Sea on the west and the steep sahyadri mountain ranges called Western Ghats on the east. The land, sandwiched between the two is a narrow strip. The Malnad regions in contrast, are at a higher altitude as they are situated on the Western Ghats and form part of the Deccan plateau. The area is covered with thick evergreen forests and is crisscrossed with many hillocks and valleys. The pattern of life and agriculture are similar to that of the costal regions. Due to heavy rains, the mountainous terrain and the thick forests, these two parts of Karnataka are, to some extent even today, isolated from the rest of the state. This is also the reason why the art and culture of these regions are devoid of external influence.
Traditionally the main occupation of the inmates of the regions where Yakshagana is prevailing is mainly agriculture except in costal regions where fishing is also prominent. Paddy, areca nut and coconut are the main crops. Peasants and agricultural laborers are busy from the month June to October in cultivation activities. It appears, from ages Yakshagana has grown up utilizing the leisure of the agricultural community which is enthusiastic to get involved in theatrical activities from November to May. Though during rainy sessions it is hardly possible to render open air performance, Talamaddle was evolved to fulfill the quest of the people for entertainment. Talamaddale is another form of indoor Yakshagana in which the artists play epic drama with only conversation and music without costumes. Today this Talamaddale has become so popular that its seasonal priority has become almost insignificant.
Some half a century ago, Yakshagana stage performances were held in rural open agricultural fields after harvesting seasons on demand and financial support of village elderly men and rich landlords. In some areas mainly in Udupi and Dakshin Kannada Districts, ‘Ata’ viz.play or open stage performances take place on the support of pious devotees of certain popular temples as a regular offering to Deities of some temples.
As the time changed Yakshagana was also commercialized to attract the general audience who would pay for performance. Commercialization witnessed during the latter half of the last century has brought about sea of change in the theatre, right from the stage tradition to the personal life of the artist class. These changes have both pleasant as well as unpleasant effect on the existence of Yakshagana throughout the territory. Parallel to commercial troupes, amateur theatre has also emerged and academic research and studies started to mould the opinion of an elite class which express deep concern about the preservation of the traditional glory of Yakshagana. Thus development of Yakshagana after independence can be considered to be three fold. One-commercialization leading to unchequed changes effected only to satisfy the laymen. Second- organization of amateur troupes whose primary goal is to preserve its original form. Third-academic activities evidenced by thousands of books, research works on the different aspects of Yakshagana which forced the educated class to develop greater awareness about the cultural important of this peculiar art. All these three folds are equally strong as against each other.
Now there are more than twenty-five commercial Yakshagana Troupes rendering Yakshagana performance across the state; as many as ten well equipped training centers have been imparting Yakshagana Education to interested candidates; thousands of amauature organizations are involved in theatrical activities everywhere; number of books have been written by scholars giving precious insights into different parts of Yakshagana. As a recent development, migration of village youths from this part of Karnataka rushing to cities in search of employment has afforded Yakshagana greater opportunities to find support from the elite urban mass. Even Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) originating from the Yakshagana region living abroad are very passionate and have fallen in love with Yakshagana so much so that they have formed local amateur troupes capable of providing some reasonably good Yakshagana programs.
Though there is increasing demand for ready to use information regarding Yakshagana through internet it is found that very little genuine effort is being done to use the internet as the principal forum of Yakshagana information exchange. Even though there are some websites and blogs dedicated to Yakshagana, their utility-from the user’s viewpoint is very much limited and rightfully so. Many sites are left unmanaged and poorly maintained after their construction. Authors of many Yakshagana sites have neglected to update information on their sites from time to time. Also, many Yakshagana groups initiated by big sites have become irregular forum to exchange personal opinions often having nothing to do with the total exposition of Yakshagana on international front.
After observing this unfortunate state of Yakshagana information disposition on the net, we The Yakshaloka (R) have developed a project to build one unique and true Yakshagana portal capable of providing complete and comprehensive information about Yakshagana in one single place with the following set of features. Having consideration as to the glory and the number of population involved with this art, we have divided Yakshagana information to be given in this site in to as many as fifteen components or menu items to be displayed in different web pages with textual, audio and video demonstrations. Each issue will contain writings by noted scholars who are experts in their respective domains.
Apart from the above web pages the site will arrange for the following inbuilt independent forums.
E-Paper to publish the Yaksharanga Monthly Magazine: Yakshaloka ® has been publishing a monthly magazine dedicated to Yakshagana every month and the same Yaksharanga Magazine will be published as E-Paper in this site every month so that the Yakshagana lovers who can not buy and read the printed Yaksharanga can read the magazine regularly on this web site.
Yakshagana Group: This site will provide for the interaction between the users of the site to become members of the Yakshagana Group of the site to share their opinion with other users without the intervention of the site administrators.
Send News: This is a forum where any user from any part of the world can send Yakshagana related news with photos, videos or audio attachments. The news and other materials so sent will be displayed in the same web page so that anyone can read it. Main purpose of this webpage is to secure greater involvement of vast section of art lovers from different parts of the world. Our local readers will get the news of other countries and the art lovers abroad will get the news of their motherland from this E-paper.
Yakshagana Events Globally: Forum in this webpage is meant for organizers of Yakshagana programmes of any kind and the internet using yakshagana lovers to have information of any Yakshagana Programmes he intends to attend, at his (or her) finger tips.
In this page also there will be a facility for any user to key in the information about Yakshagana Programmes in different places. Any event organizer can best utilize this page to advertise the events organized anywhere in the world. The user will be allowed to arrange the information as he is pleased to and anyone can go through the page to see whether there is any programme in his town or city. Hence ‘location specific Yakshagana event information in real-time mode’ will be a reality through this online Yakshagana portal.
Currently, this web site is being constructed and we expect all the possible support of Yakshagana lovers, artists and scholars without which we can’t reach our end goal. Valuable and constructive suggestions by the art lovers will be acted upon with pleasure.
Mr. Gopalkrishna Bhagwath
Secretary - Yakshaloka ®,
Reg. Office: Yakshanugraha, Haladipura, Honavar,
Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka State (INDIA)