The actor Gubbi founded GUBBI THEATRE in 1884. In those days rural plays were being performed. The playwrights Ballav Narhari Shastri, Puttuswamy, T.V. Kaliasame contributed much to the development of professional Kannada Theatre. In the field of acting big credit goes to the actors Varadachar, Shreerang, Garud Sadashivrao and Peersaheb in the progress of Kannada Theatre. Gubbi Veeranna earned great fame as an actor. Among the non-professional Kannada Theatre artists the playwright Kshirsagar and Kumarraja penned many plays. Besides Gubbi Theatre another professional theatre is Surabhi Natak Mandali which is till day active and performs old style dramas.
These plays are of the "Jatra" genre and are influenced by Hindi and Telugu films. Shreerang Adya Rangachari's contribution to the development of Kannad Theater is indeed noteworthy. Among his most famous plays are "MUHURAT", "NIRUTTAR KUMAR", "AGNISAKSHI", "SAMPOORNA RAMAYAN", "KELU JANMEJAYA" and "SWAGATSAMBHASHAN". Dashrath Dikshit's "LAMBODAR" and Ballav Narhari Shashtri's "LANKADAHAN" have proved to be popular Kannad dramas. It is to be noted that very successful good Kannad plays have been written on the main dramatis personae of MAHABHARAT, particularly on characters such as Bhishma. Shriram Karanth, author of NAGKANYA PISHACHI and many other plays, has been one of the outstanding Kannad playwrights. His "VEER ABHIMANYU" is a special kind of play striking a new path in dramaturgy.
In the post-independence Kannad Theatre two dramatists - directors stand out in a big way. They are Girish Karnad and Chandrashekhar Kanibhar. B. V. Karanth and K. V. Subbann are also notable personalities of the Kannad theater B. V. Karanth has directed Hindi plays also besides the Kannad plays. His plays command special attention by their stagecraft and music. K. V. Subbann pioneered a drama training school named "NINASAM" in a small Kannad village Hedudu and brought about a new awakening in the theater movement. Prasanna has also directed many Karnad and Hindi plays. A special mention must be made of Girish Karnad's plays "YAYATI", "TUGHLAK", "HAYAVADAN" and "NAGMANDAL". Drawing characters from epics and history and interpreting those characters in a modern meaningful way, the conflicts of these characters and the whirlpool of their psychological stresses have been portrayed against the backdrop of modern times. These plays continue to be staged in Kannad as well as in Hindi versions. The plays have drawn remarkably gifted directors like Ibrahim Alkazi and Karanth for directing them.
Chandrashekhar Kanbhar is a prominent dramatist but his plays have been staged mainly in Karnatak. "JOKUMAR SWAMI" (1972) has been his most well-known drama. His other notable plays are "RUSHYASHRUNG", "JAY SIDANAYAK", "HARIKEYA KURI" and "MULIYA NIRALU" which are based on life of the local people, mythological stories and some have a flair of political satire.
The contribution of Kannada Theatre to the Bharatiya Drama is remarkable and very significant.
The information presented here in respect of the Kannada Theatre has been gathered from available sources. It has been like an attempt to gather pearls from the ocean. It is possible that some happenings, names of some dramas and dramatists and drama artists may have been left out. For our lack of knowledge we seek your forgiveness and at the same time request the experts in this field to draw our attention to any errors or mistakes by writing to us the correct details. We assure you such corrections will be promptly carried out.
Further the names of dramas, playwrights and drama artists who are listed here are not in any order of priority of their qualities or achievements but only with a view to present the information as it has been gathered.
Lastly we once again request you to send in your suggestions, information etc. in respect of Kannada dramas and thereby enrich this humble record of the Kannada Theatre.