Who we are
The KATTAIKKUTTU SANGAM is a social mission-driven, grassroots performing arts organization that uses the integration of academic education and performing arts training to promote, contemporize and make sustainable the unique folk theatre form of Northern Tamil Nadu—Kattaikkuttu. The Sangam is an association of professional Kattaikkuttu performers—run for them and by them.
Kattaikkuttu is our core business. We strive to combine Kattaikkuttu’s traditional artistic knowledge and communicative power with sophisticated craftsmanship and perfection in order to address multiple audiences: rural, urban, national and global. Our holistic artistic vision is geared towards strengthening the artistic scope and the validation of Kattaikkuttu and creating sustainable and dignified livelihoods for its performers.
What we do
The KATTAIKKUTTU GURUKULAM is the Sangam’s young people’s training and advocacy programme. It is a residential school where 51 students (6-18 years) and 7 apprentices live, study and train together with their teachers. Our students belong to the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Tamil Nadu, India. The artistic, academic and professional skills we equip them with enable them to break away from the vicious circle of chronic poverty they and their families find themselves in.
The Gurukulam empowers a new generation of young people to make their own choices. The training and education students receive here equips them with the necessary artistic, intellectual and life skills to become successful performers, or, in case they do not opt for a career in the arts, to continue higher studies or vocational training elsewhere. We address problems of malnutrition and offer counselling to students who face problematic situations at home.
Established in 2002, the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam now has completed three phases of training (2002-2006, 2006-2010 and 2010-2014). It has delivered two groups of well-educated, highly trained and skilled young Kattaikkuttu performers, all of whom have found employment as performers or have gone for higher studies. Seven graduates have joined our APPRENTICE PROGRAMME. This programme offers selected graduates who wish to continue as professional performers a work-cum-learning trajectory to develop their teaching, financial, planning and/or management skills. The programme prepares them for the professional performing arts world and/or enables them to take over responsibilities within the own organization.
The founders of the Kattaikkuttu Sangam, actor, director, playwright and teacher P. Rajagopal and his Dutch wife, Dr. Hanne M. de Bruin, strongly believe that the Kattaikkuttu profession is a dignified choice that should be open to all. Their single-minded determination has led to many firsts: With quality education and artistic training under one roof and accessible to the poor, children no longer drop out of primary education when they become a performer (Rajagopal’s own experience). For the first time in its history, Kattaikkuttu has opened its doors to girls with efforts in full swing to break the social taboo that prevents rural girls and women from entering the stage.