THE renowned Kala Chethena Kathakali Company, from Kerala, South India, is bringing the ancient art of Kathakali to Cardigan during its UK tour.

Kathakali is a masterpiece of sacred theatre that erupts on stage with striking visual images that expose the magical world of South India and will be at Theatr Mwldan Tuesday, October 17 at 7.30pm.

Kathakali is the classical dance drama of the state of Kerala and combines storytelling, dance, drama, music, ritual, vibrant costumes and the centuries-old, highly skilled art of make-up called ‘chutti’. The chutti is in the Guinness Book of Records as the most three-dimensional make-up in the world.

The show is presented by world-class Kathakali experts who have undergone years of intense training and performed internationally for decades.

Before each performance there is a demonstration of how the actor tells a story, followed by a short film, to lead the audience into the Kathakali play that reflects the rich cultural identity of the people of India, especially the people of Kerala.

Based in Southampton, England and founded by Keralan Kathakali actor Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and Kathakali make-up specialist Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar, the Kala Chethena Kathakali Company brings major world class artists from Kerala to tour nationally and internationally.

The couple met while studying at the world-famous centre for the study of arts and culture in Kerala, the Kerala Kalamandalam - Kalamandalam Vijayakumar, a student of acting and Kalamandalam Barbara, a student of chutti make-up. Barbara became the first female chutti (make-up artist])in the world!

Barbara`s story is remarkable. As an artist she wanted to explore the idea of abstract make-up techniques to incorporate into her own artistic practice.

She travelled alone in 1972, hitch-hiking through Europe and Turkey, crossing the deserts of Iran, passing through the mountains of Afghanistan on the top of a lorry, a bicycle and a donkey, then onto the Kyber pass, Pakistan and into northern India.

After travelling south she got off a train at the wrong stop and quite by chance stumbled across the Kerala Kalamandalam, where she asked to join a course in chutti and finally settled in Kerala.

She graduated in 1976 as the first female and non- Indian Kathakali make-up artist in the world. Barbara is also the longest practising chutti artist – male or female - the first female Kathakali costumer and Kathakali costume maker in the world.

Celebrating 30 years of touring the UK, the Kala Chethena Kathakali Company is the Indian equivalent of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet or Royal Shakespeare Company visiting your area!

“It is impossible not to find the performance colourful, entertaining and fascinating. The dancers` impressive skill, rooted in years of discipline, remind us of the glory of non-European drama,” says The Stage.

“They perform with amazing grace, intensity and dignity. Intense, hypnotic and spectacularly beautiful,” adds The Daily Telegraph.

Tickets for Kathakali are £15, £14 for concessions and £3 mates rates (for 11-18 year olds, see our website for details) and are available now from Theatr Mwldan’s box office on 01239 621200, online at or via the new MWLDAN app.