South India has a rich theatrical tradition spanning over centuries. Ancient Sangam literature, particularly the epical works like ‘Silappadhikaram’, give clues to the rich theatre culture of South India. When the Sanskrit theatre began to decline in northern India, it travelled to the south and flourished there from the 8th century A.D. until the present.
While classical dramatic traditions remained confined to theatres called ‘Koothambalams’, the folk tradition manifested in ritualistic and non-ritualistic theatrical forms such as ‘Theyyam’, Kali dance-dramas and ‘Bhuta’ dances. Most often the classical and the folk forms mingled to create varied new forms such as ‘Kathakali’, ‘Bhagavata Mela’, ‘Kuchipudi’, ‘Terukoothu’ and ‘Yakshagana’.