Margi is one of the best among training and research centres in Kerala, especially when it comes to major performing art forms like Kudiyattam, Nangiarkoothu and Kathakali. Margi has its activities going on at two places in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. The one at Valiyasala is where Kudiyattam and Nangiarkoothu are performed. The other one near East Fort is devoted exclusively to Kathakali. At both centres, students undergo training in their chosen fields of performing art forms. Training in musical instruments likeÂ chenda, maddalam, IdakkaandÂ thimilaÂ are also given at Margi.
Margi was founded in 1970 by noted theatre enthusiast of the time, the late D.Appukuttan Nair. He was also the architect of the Koothambalam at Kalamandalam in Cheruthuruthy in Kerala. The name 'Margi' in Sanskrit means pursuit of aesthetic values, which are universal and everlasting. In the beginning classical Indian theatre arts were regularly staged at Margi, most of which were not commonly staged in Kerala.
Among the prime objectives of Margi are its efforts at preserving and propagating Kerala's classical arts, such as Kathakali and Kutiyattom. Apart from regular courses, Margi conducts short-term courses, especially for foreigners.
In 1974, the Margi centre for Kathakali was started for training artistes in the true Gurukula (in-house) tradition, with the teacher and students staying together all the time under the same roof. The first Chief Guru was the renowned Kathakali maestro, Mankulam Vishnu Namboodiri. In 1980, the all time great, the late Padmashri Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair joined Margi as Chief Guru and taught in Margi till his demise.
In 1981, the Kutiyattam centre was started with Padmashri Ammannur Madhava Chakiar as visiting professor, Moozhikulam Kochukuttan Chakkiar as resident Guru and three students Raman, Madhu, and Narayanan Sajeev as students. Kalamandalam Unni Krishnan Nambiar was the Chief Guru of the percussion department, who taught Mizhavu, one of the oldest percussion instruments, associated with Koothu.
Some of the renowned artistes associated with Margi in the field of acting include Inchakattu Ramachandran Pillai, Kalamandalam Ratheesan, Margi Vijayakumar, Margi Murali, and Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam. Noted musicians including Kalamandalam Krishnankutty and Kalanilayam Rajeevan (Vocal); Kalamandalam Krishna Das, (Chenda); Margi Retnakaran (Maddalam), Margi Somadas (Make-up and stage) are also associated with the institution.
Margi maintains a system known as Kaliyogam or a performing group staying together all the time. The Chief Guru is always a senior and well-accepted master of the art form. The key function of a Kaliyogam is to have variety in its repertoire so as to sustain interest in the art.Â The center holds regular performances in its own theatres and also outside, following request.
With facilities for teaching and a mini theatre for regular performances, the two centres of Margi in Thiruvananthapuram attract students and scholars from Kerala and outside. These centers have done pioneering work in reviving as well as revitalizing Nangiarkoothu, Kathakali and Kutiyattam and in the documentation and publication of books.
The Margi troupe has performed extensively in several countries since 1980. They include Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Germany, Japan, U.K., Italy, U.S, France, Spain, etc. International recognition for Kutiyattam was a turning point in the endeavours of Margi. It was Margiâ€™s initiative that saw Kutiyattam being proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Margi is today reckoned as one of the premier institutions, which over the years has been dedicated to the cause of the performing arts of Kerala. It has virtually become the abode to so many artistes, and has helped many to attain high levels of artistic excellence.
Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram Central, about 2 km
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 5 km
Near Fort High School