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During the past twenty years SMPC has been the home to a series of residencies by the Kala Chethena  Kathakali  Company  and has maintained a regular contact with company founders Kalamandalum Vijayakumar and Kalamandalum Barbara Vijayakumar.  The company is based in Southampton but brings artists from Kerala to the UK for major tours.

Kathakali is an ancient dance-drama originating in the temples of Kerala, South  West India over five hundred years ago . SMPC has retained video and photo archives, dvds of the Asian gestural language of the mudras plus publications resulting from the above residencies.   These include:

  • A guide to the Kathakali character

  • The arts and traditions of Kathakali

  • Emotion and facial expression – Navarasas (the nine emotions

  • Kathakali make-up

  • Kathakali and geography

  • A celebration of Celtic and Asian storytelling

SMPC has hosted a Theyam Residency, a Centre Ocean Stream experimental workshop, a performance of Poothana Moksham and a performance of Snow White. The Centre has also facilitated work in local schools and community organisations and with the Hindu Mandir in Glasgow.


The traditions and skills associated with Kathakali work across art, dance, drama, music, storytelling and communication. Kathakali is a benchmark for excellence in physical training and performance skills that perfectly complement those integral to mask and puppet theatre. While Vijayakumar is one of the finest exponents of female dance parts, Barbara is the finest and only female master of “chutti” make-up techniques that comprise the facial masks of Kathakali characters.  We are wholly indebted to their generosity of spirit and expertise in sharing their practice, dedication and beliefs behind this wonderful tradition.

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