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Tolpava Koothu - Selected Bibliography

Nair, Sreedevi K., When goddess turns spectator: on multiple audiences in Tholpava Koothu performances in Kerala, Studies in Theratre and Performances Volume 29, Number 2, 2009 (Intellect Ltd.), p. 173-186

The article takes forward Blackburn's insightful perception and -- interestingly termed 'the absent audience'. It elaborates on the multiple audiences within the performance by dwelling at length upon the performer's self as audience, co-performer as audience, narrative audience, ritualistic audience and conventional audience. The article delineates how a notional audience can make theatre happen and bring it to a totality of being.


Blackburn, Stuart, Inside the Drama-House. Rama Stories and Shadow Puppets in South India, Berkeley • Los Angeles • Oxford (University of California Press) 1996, 310 p.

"Imagine that (a medieval) Shakespeare was thought to exist only in libraries, until a performance tradition with local commentary was discovered somewhere in Wales; than add that the players for an absent audience; and you have the Kerala shadow puppet play."
With this image Stuart Blackburn starts his detailed and captivating account of the shadow puppet theatre tradition of Kerala, an ode to Talpava Koothu and the pupeteers.
Blackburn demonstrates how the performers adapt the narrative and add their own commentary to re-create the story from a folk perspective. At a time when the Rama story is used to mobilize political movements in India, the puppeteers' elaborate recitation and commentary presents this controversial tale from another ethical perspective, one that advocates moral reciprocity and balance.


G. Venu, Tolpava Koothu. Shadow puppets of Kerala, New Delhi (Sangeet Natak Akademi) 1990, Reprint 2006, 67 p.

Venu's small book provides a basic introduction to Tolpava Koothu, mainly refering to late Guru Krishnankutty Pulavar and his puppetiers. Venu G. sets out its cultural background, associated rituals, as well as specifics of stage, illumination, music, puppets and their manipulation. The book contains a day-wise synopsis of the story as presented in 21 parts, select scenes from Tolpava Koothu, lists of puppets and temples where the art is practiced.

seltmann.jpg Seltmann, Friedrich, Schattenspiel in Kerala. Sakrales Theater in Süd-Indien, Stuttgart (Steiner) 1986, 134 p., 44 plates
Summary and Appendix "Sequence of Scenes of the Kamba-Ramayanak-Kuttu"

This monography about Tolpava Koothu is the first of it's kind to give a detailed account of Kerala's shadow puppetry, its socio-cultural background, late Guru Krishnankutty Pulavar and his contribution to the art form. Available -- most regrettable only in German language, the book contains a summary in English and an appendix in English of sequences and scenes (151 frames) of the Kamba Ramayanak Koothu.


Tolpava Koothu - Video Documentations

Borrowed Fire the shadow puppets of Kerala
A Documentary about Krishnankutty Pulavar
by Anurag Wadehra & Salil Singh, 1998, 48 minutes


Tolpavakoothu - Bala Kandam
A Documentary.
by Department of Tourism. Government of Kerala 2005, 55:45 minutes

Transcript  pdf-brochure

Tolpava Koothu on YouTube

02/2010  Gandhikoothu /Tholpavakoothu - A Shadow puppetry show  04:19
10/2009  Enchanting Tholpavakoothu, the shadow puppetry - Part 1  05:22
10/2009  Enchanting Tholpavakoothu, the shadow puppetry - Part 2  07:44
10/2009  Enchanting Tholpavakoothu, the shadow puppetry - Part 3  05:46
09/2009  Tholpavakoothu - Bala Kandam  55:43
09/2011  The Soul of Vibrant Shadows, by Upendra K. R.  35:28
01/1998  Borrowed Fire - The Shadow Puppets of Kerala   49:02
06/2008  Tholpavakoothu, a ritualistic art form performed in temples  01:02
01/2008  Tolpavakoothu /Tholpavakoothu - A Shadow puppetry show  05:21 ‚


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