The Musicians

AT THE BACK of the stage on the left as seen from the audience stand the two drummmers One plays the chenda, a cylindrical drum held vertically and for the most part played with sticks, the other plays the maddalam, held horizontally and played with the hands. The left end is played with the palm and the right end with the fingers, each of which has a finger-stall made of rice and lime applied to a strip of cloth.

The drummers accompany the action, supply the rhythm and emphasise the mudras and dance steps of the actors. The orchestra is completed with two singers who stand on the right of the stage. The leader plays a gong and his assistant a pair of cymbals. The singers tell the story of the play, verse by verse, in Sanskritized Malayalam which the actors interpret word for word through their mudras and facial expressions, after which there is a period of pure dance called kalasam, when part of the first verse is repeated. After this the next verses are sung, and in this way the whole story of the play is told.