Sannata (saNNATa) (ಸಣ್ಣಾಟ) or Dappinata (DappinATa) (ಡಪ್ಪಿನಾಟ) is a well known variety of folk theatre, practiced
Sannata is supposed to have originated in the beginning of nineteenth century and ‘sangyA bALyA’ based on an incident that took place in Bailahongala in Belaguam district is deemed to be the first Sannata. There are two stages in the evolution of sannata. To begin with it was more of an opera than a play. Songs presented in folk style constituted the heart and soul of this performance. Dialogues if any occupied a secondary role and they were impromptu in nature. ‘SangyA bALya’, rAdhAnATa’, (very traditional) ‘kaDlimaTTi station master’ and ‘basavanta-balavanta’ were the major plays during this period. By the third decade of the twentieth century sannata was deeply influenced by the professional theatre and elaborate, pre-determined dialogues came in to vogue, Songs were composed to match dancing tunes. Dappu was replaced by tablaa and harmonium. ‘Tiru nIlakanTa’, ‘nijaguNa shivayOgi’ and ‘allamapraBu’ are some important plays during this period. Usually four categories of sannata ie shaiva, vaishnava, social and imaginary are recognized.
the stories based on mythology shed their original form and assume different
overtones. Even the outlines of the story are changed, For instance in
‘rAdhAnATa’ the story line goes like this: “Radha appears on stage behind a curtain – music evocative of her
personality is played. The chorus welcomes her, describing her dress, beauty
and gait vividly. Then the curtain is removed and the story begins. Radha
The stage settings and costumes for a sannata performance are very simple. Even the main actors are dressed in simple dhotis and shirts. A colourful headgear is perhaps the only concession. Even the female roles are usually performed by men. However there are women professionals who have played these roles for decades. They are called ‘cimaNA’s. Sannatas are performed by amateur artists from villages. Occasionally, professionals are imported from out sides for certain sophisticated roles.
Thus sannata is folk form which is in a state of flux and has undergone many changes over a period of time.