A theatrical art which developed under the auspices of the Church in Kerala is the Chavittunatakam which is now almost defunct. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the leaders of the Church, in close collaboration with the Portuguese missionaries, evolved a new theatrical art called Chavittunatakam with the object of presenting Christian or Biblical themes for the sake of Christian audiences.


In Chavittunatakam, the actors not only speak and sing but also stamp oa the wooden platform with their feet to the tune; of soqgi aad beating of drums. It is because acting and stamping form important elements in Chavittunatakam that it has come to be so called (chavittu means stamping with the feet and natakam drama). The movements of the actors on the stage are more lively aad vigorous than graceful or artistic. Women were not allowed to act in Chavittunatakam. Chienda, Maddalam, Mridangam, Nagaswaram, violin, harmonium and the band were the musical instruments used for the orchestra. Among the stories presented by the Chavitunatakam troupes were those of Charlemagne, Napoleon, the lives of Christian Saints and the history of Christianity. The stage in Chavittunatakam was an large one,30 meters in length and 9 meters in width, made by arranging a series of wooden planks. It was about 2.70 meters high from the floor and very often the Elizabethan type of double-storied stage was put up.