its earliest forms, theatre in Kerala encompassed performing arts like
Kootiyattam, which called
for an erudite audience, along with folk art performances like the 'Kakkarissi
Inspired by the Christian religious plays of Europe, the Christians of Kerala evolved their own theatre called the Chavittunatakom. Pure Malayalam theatre is captured in all its essence in Kerala Varma Valia Koithampuran's 'Abhignana Sakunthalam' (1898 AD), a translation of Kalidasa's 'Sakunthalam'. Drama was used as a powerful tool by social revolutionaries like V.T.Bhattathirippad. Towards the first half of the 20th century various political and revolutionary groups began to use drama as an effective medium to propagate their views.
Since the forties, a number of professional drama troupes have been functioning all over Kerala. The KPAC, a theatre troupe formed for the propagation of communist ideology, deserves special mention.
The seventies saw the emergence of a new school of drama called the 'Thanathu Nataka Vedi', purporting to revive the native elements of the art forms of Kerala.
However, in the eighties, street plays stole the show. The Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad used street plays as an effective medium to popularise science among the masses.
Street plays were also used to generate mass support on issues like Literacy, Environment Protection and Women's Liberation. The School of Drama functioning under the University of Calicut offers courses in Theatrical Arts.