PSi#21 Fluid States - Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, by Hanne M De Bruin, India Presenter


Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam

by Hanne M De Bruin

1 March 2015

PSi#21 Fluid States - India: Rethinking Labor and the Creative Economy - Global Performance Perspectives


The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam is a ground-breaking experiment set up in 2002 by the Kattaikkuttu Sangam. This residential theatre school offers rural children from disadvantaged backgrounds access to professional training in Kattaikkuttu theatre in combination with quality formal education and comprehensive care. The students of the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam include for the first time girls–a historic innovation in a theatre that traditionally was a male-only prerogative. The school is based in Punjarasantankal, a small village near Kanchipuram Town, about 85 kilometres from Chennai.

The Gurukulam was founded by Kattaikkuttu actor, director and playwright P. Rajagopal. The school is his dream. At the age of ten Rajagopal became a professional child actor in his father's company and dropped out of regular education. Rajagopal believes that Kattaikkuttu can be a rewarding, dignified and full-time profession, if its future practitioners are well-trained, well-educated and equipped to handle the challenges of the contemporary performance market.

The Gurukulam does question society’s attitude vis-a-vis the Kattaikkuttu theatre which stigmatises it as physical labour, a theatre of the poor and the uneducated, a remnant of an ancient past which no longer fits modern society or a remnant that requires to purification and revival by urban outsiders. Through its artistic and educational work the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam counteracts this stigma focusing on the scope of Kattaikkuttu—what the theatre can be if its performers have the freedom of artistic choice. It uses professional Kattaikkuttu training as a medium for the cultural emancipation of disadvantaged children promoting gender equality and turning talents into artistic, intellectual and life skills. In doing so it makes visible and accessible an alternative education that previously existed only in the informal sector and beyond the purview of educational policies and politics to train children and young people in theatre and life.

Rama Ravana, Festival 2012

Vilaiyattin Vilaivu, 2014

Kuravanchi Juniors, 2012

Tripurakkali, 2012

Magic Horse, Festival 2014

RamaRavana, Festival 2014

Junior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, Draupadi Kuravanchi Production

Video available on the Fluid States TV You Tube Channel at  Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam

[Photos & Videos: Sue Rees]


Further information about the Kattaikkuttu Sangam & Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam:


Facebook page:

Video-clip Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam:



Dr Hanne M. de Bruin, Executive Director

Kattaikkuttu Sangam & Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam

Kuttu Kalai Kudam – Centre for Performing Arts

36 Punjarasantankal Village, Aiyankarkulam Post-631502

Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu, India

M: +91 9944 369 600 (office)


Copyright –  Hanne M de Bruin  (2015) “Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam”, PSi #21 Fluid States: Performances of UnKnowing LOG, ed. Marin Blazevic, Bree Hadley and Nina Gojic, Performance Studies international (PSi), 1 January 2015-31 December 2015, available

Tags: Class Labor Economy and Performance  Community and Performance  Daily Life Daily Rituals and Performance   Performance Studies in Asia  Performance Studies in Languages Other Than English  

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