chapter  6
Improvisation: freedom and collusion
Pages 12

The improvisational mode of all aspects of Kutiyattam performance seemed to be an important factor in its ability to rouse the audience’s imaginative activity: both actor and audience experience the play with something of the same uncertainty about what will happen next so that both make fresh discovery of it in the same instant. Could such mutual spontaneity be appropriate for plays with dialogue as complex and as subtle as Shakespeare’s? Innovative and traditional imagery, sensi­ tive and energetic syntax, new-minted words, varied allusions, and metre make so many demands upon an actor that sudden inspiration could hardly be sufficient stimulus for more than brief moments. Besides, so much happens on stage that an audience can only occasionally concentrate on the imaginative centre of an actor’s performance which is where all those words must find their dramatic validity.