Kathakali is performed anywhere, but mostly in temple precincts. No raised platform is necessary. The performance is announced by beating of the drums.
The performance is around a big multi-wicked bell-metal lamp. Behind the lamp a rectangular curtain is held by two persons. The actors stand behind the curtain. When the curtain holders drop and remove the curtain, the performance starts.
Kathakali has seven items to act upon. They are:
1 Todayam (basic dance)
2 Purappadu (debut of the main character)
3 Tiranokku (curtain look by evil characters or demons)
4 Kummi (preamble for the female character’s appearance)
5 Kathakali (the main play)
6 Kalaasam (passage of hyped dance as hyphen between two pieces of verse play)
7 Samaapanam (concluding benediction dance)
This is a preliminary dance behind the curtain, employing basic techniques.
This is preliminary dance on the stage by the main character. For Purappadu the curtain is held by the stretched up hands in maximum height. The atmosphere is surcharged with high pitch music. Sound of quick and heavy foot-steps from behind the curtain pierces through the atmosphere. At this time a colour-canopy appears over the curtain, when an extra ordinary noise is heard. Drums beat becomes at top vigour. Fingers of the character (left hand fingers covered with long thimbles) rise in the centre of the curtain. The hands hold the curtain on top end and fingers glide across. No singing at this moment, but the drum beat crosses tolerable limit.
Now is the turn of anti-hero. He shakes the curtain violently. The audience chances upon the upper portion of the headgear of the hero. Anti-hero draws the curtain towards him and surge forward. The face of the hero character is now exposed on the stage.
The anti-hero drops the curtain and the hero is exposed in full view. At this stage the curtain is pulled off from the stage. This procedure is known as Tirano’kku.
This is preamble of female characters appearance. In Kummi (a sort of dance) the movements and gestures are not rigid. Gentleness and mildness with slow paces are Kummi’s specialties.