I chanced upon the Koothambalam while walking through Kalakshetra campus from the other side. Approaching from the office and going past the newly built lotus pond area I followed a group of dance students as they walked purposefully towards their practice cottages. So as not to disturb them while they rehearse, I turned away and was suddenly stopped in my tracks by this scene. The majestic structure loomed out from amidst the trees. I had approached it from the back.
With my usual fascination for performance spaces I began sketching, standing up. The Koothambalam is undergoing extensive renovation and the main entrance area is quite un-approachable at the moment. They are planning to air-condition the space and the inside of the auditorium was covered in scaffolding.
As I sketched I thought of groups and repertories with their own performance spaces. How important it is. As vital as the work itself. I thought of the koothambalam as an inspiration for the young students who would work towards performing there and then, as I stood, in the shadow of the old trees, sketching from "behind the scenes" , I thought of a weekend, a few years ago when we had staged two plays inside the same space. I remembered carrying the set through those large doors and the frenetic activity ahead of the shows. Its funny how the sketch turned into such a nostalgic experience.