Johanna Maria (Hanne) de Bruin

1959 –
popular Indian theatre, theatre and education, theatre for development
South Indian society, culture and religion
Tamil language and literature

Curriculum vitae

1959born in Kloetinge on August 23
1971-1977Athenaeum-B (matriculation diploma), Het Goese Lyceum, Goes
1978-1984MA Indology, Leiden University
1985-1987studied Tamil and Tamil culture with scholarship of Government of India (bilateral Indo-Dutch scholarship programme), Tamil University Tanjavur and Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore
1987-1990scientific documentalist, Documentation Centre for South Asia, University of Leiden
1990-1993PhD fellow Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (WOTRO), The Hague
1993-1994visiting fellow M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India (Traditional Communication Media in Development Programme)
1994PhD Indology/performance studies under the supervision of J.C. Heesterman, Leiden University
1995-1996postdoc research fellow at Institut Français de Pondichéry, Department of Social Sciences, Pondicherry, India
1996-1997postdoc research fellow at the École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Pondicherry, India
1997-2001postdoc research fellow performing arts of Asia Research Programme, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden
2001-2012facilitator and fund raiser for the Kattaikkuttu Sangam and Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, Punjarasantankal Village, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu, India; producer new plays of Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam and co-producer, costume designer
2011-designer and facilitator of workshops using the medium of Kattaikkuttu to address corporate work-floor related problems (workshops conducted for Orchid Pharma and Shell International, Chennai)
2012-executive director and fund raiser Kattaikkuttu Sangam & Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam; initiator Apprentice Programme and Sustainability Programme of Kattaikkuttu Sangam; costume designer & co-producer new productions ( )

Special activities and positions

  • Founder with P. Rajagopal, coordinator and fund raiser of the NGO Kattaikkuttu Sangam in Punjarasantankal, Kanchipuram District, 1990
  • Founder with P. Rajagopal of Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, the Kattaikkuttu Youth Theatre School, 2002
  • Founder of the Centre for Performing Arts (Kuttu Kalai Kudam), Punjarasantankal, Kanchipuram district, 2004
  • Coordinator South-Indian Theatre Festival, Kanchipuram (2000) and Kuttu Festival, Punjarasantankal, 2005
  • Guest lecturer at various universities in Germany (Würzburg 2003-2005; Heidelberg 2011; Tübingen 2011; Würzburg, on education and the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, 2011), and at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (on Tamil regional theatre, 2012)
  • ATSA fellow in arts management addressed to India’s arts practitioners of today and India’s sponsored by the South Asian network of Goethe Institutes, 2011-2012
  • Academic courses in Indian culture and Hinduism, performing arts of India, oral traditions and aspects of oral communication, women performers Tamil language & culture, Universities of Leiden, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Würzburg, SOAS, London, JNU, New Delhi
  • Guidance/supervision of students from The Netherlands, Germany and India pursuing the study of Indian performing arts and/or South Indian culture (M.A. and Ph.D. level)
  • Theatre workshops together with P. Rajagopal – Haymarket Theatre Leicester, Contact Theatre Manchester, Get In! Liverpool (UK), DNA Amsterdam, International Faculty Theatre School Utrecht (The Netherlands), Zuiderpershuis Antwerpen, (Belgium).


1987  “The Art of Terukkuttu.” Frontline (Madras) 4,15: 56-73.
1989  “Het gebruik van Terukkuttu, een traditioneel volkstheater uit Tamil Nadu, ten behoeve van lepravoorlichting.” (“The use of Terukkuttu, a traditional theatre of Tamil Nadu, for leprosy health education.”). In: Kees Epskamp and Rogier van ’t Rood (eds), Populaire cultuur op de planken: theater, communicatie en Derde Wereld, Den Haag (CESO Paperback 6), pp. 87-102 (in Dutch).
“Zuid-Indiaas volkstheater bedreigd in voortbestaan: valt het doek voor Terukkuttu ?” Azië 10: 52-56.
1991  “Analysis of an oral theatre text: preliminary findings.” Journal of the Institute of Asian Studies (Madras) 8,2: 98-130.
1992  “Ritual, stage and history: the relationship between performers and audiences in a Tamil theatre tradition”. In: A.W. van den Hoek, D.H.A. Kolff, and M.S. Oort (eds), Ritual, state and history in South Asia: essays in honour of J.C. Heesterman, Leiden: Brill (Memoirs of the Kern Institute 5), pp. 455-479.
& Clara Brakel-Papenhuyzen, “The death of Karna: two sides of a story.” Asian Theatre Journal 9,1: 38-70.
& Mina Swaminathan, “Folk theatre on the threshold: A Kattaikkoothu festival.” Frontline (Madras) 9,6: 100-103.
1993  “Kattaikkuttu: the folk theatre of Tamil Nadu.” In: C.C. Barfoot and Cobi Bordewijk (eds), Theatre intercontinental: forms, functions, correspondences, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 115-139.
“‘Texts’ and the authors of an oral tradition.” In: Wim van Zanten (ed.), Oideion: the performing arts world-wide, Leiden (CNWS Publications 14), pp. 1-18.
“Listening to trees.” Seminar 409: 23-26.
1994  Kattaikkuttu: the flexibility of a South Indian theatre tradition, Leiden. – PhD thesis Leiden University; revision 1999.
1996  Leprosy in South India: stigma and strategies of coping, Pondicherry: French Institute of Pondicherry (Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 22).
“Getting the message across: using folk media for development communication.” Madhyam 11,1 (Special issue on Folk Art and People’s Expression): 3-9.
1997  & Wim van Zanten, “Performance of South Indian Kattaikkuttu theatre marks the opening of the PAATI Research Programme.” Oideion: Performing Arts Online 1 (November), text
1998  Karna Moksham or Karna’s death: a play by Pukalentippulavar, a Tamil play translated by Hanne M. de Bruin, Pondicherry, India (Publications du Département d’Indologie 87).
“Studying performance in South India: theories and practice.” South Asia Research 18,1 (Special Issue on the Performing Arts of South Asia): 12-38.
1999  Kaṭṭaikkūttu: the flexibility of a South Indian theatre tradition, Groningen: Egbert Forsten (Gonda Indological Studies 7). – Revision of PhD thesis 1994.
“What practice? Whose practice?” Oideion: Performing Arts Online 3 (July), text (published in 2003).
“Different perspectives on folk theatre’s state and recent history in Tamil Nadu.” In: Jackie Assayag (ed.), The resources of history: traditions, narration and nation in South Asia, Paris-Pondicherry (India), pp. 261-272.
“The right to communicate and the right to perform.” In: Guy Poitevin, Bernard Bel and Biswajit Das (eds),Communication processes: defiance and dominance, Pune (India): Centre for Cooperative Research in Social Sciences, online text
“Summer school in traditional Tamil theatre.” IIAS Newsletter 20 (November).
2000  “Naming a theatre in Tamil Nadu.” Asian Theatre Journal 17,1: 98-122.
“The hybrid-popular theatre movement and the Tamil Natakam theatre.” Kolam 5/6, section IV. online text
“Tenth anniversary of unique theatre group.” Sruti (Chennai) 188: 34-35.
2001  Editor of and introd. to Seagull Theatre Quarterly 31 (September, ‘Hybrid theatres in India’), Calcutta (India): The Seagull Foundation for the Arts.
“The unheard history of the rural stage in Tamil Nadu as told by four of its professional exponents.” Newsletter 20, Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (Leiden): 42-43.
“The history of the natakam or ‘drama’: a hybrid-popular theatre in rural north Tamilnadu”. Seagull Theatre Quarterly 31: 56-74.
2002  “Self-censorship as a self-cleansing process: Hanne M. de Bruin and Theodore Baskaran in conversation (facilitated by M. Ramakrishnan).” Indian Folklife 2,2: 18-23.
2003  “Challenges to a folk theatre in Tamil Nadu.” Indian Folklore Research Journal (Chennai) 1,3: 1-14.
“What practice? Whose practice?” Oideion: the performing arts world-wide 3 (Leiden): 62-72. – also on the Internet, see 1999.
2004  “The Devadasi debate and the public sphere.” In: M.D. Muthukumaraswamy and Molly Kaushal (eds), Folklore, public sphere and civil society, New Delhi-Chennai, pp.
“The Kattaikkuttu theatre and the Kattaikkuttu Sangam” presented at the Prithvi Festival Forums, Mumbai, November 2003, quoted and reworked in “Kattaikkuttu Sangam: creating artists, developing audiences” Theatre of India. Edited by Sameera Iyengar, concept Sanjna Kapoor & design Anisha Heble. Mumbai: Prithvi Theatre.
2005  Guest-editor of and introd. to Indian Folklife: a quarterly newsletter from the National Folklore Support Centre 20 ( Teaching and transmission of Indian performing arts, Chennai.
& P. Rajagopal and Evelien Pullens, Aiyappan & the magic horse, Chennai: Tulika Publishers. – book for children.
2006  Kattaikkuttu: handleiding docenten bij de jeugdvoorstelling Bhima en de Bloem (Kattaikkuttu: Teachers Guide accompanying the performance for young people of Bhima and the Flower). Amsterdam: KIT Theatre (in Dutch).
“Fieldwork & positioning.” Indian Folklife 23 (Post-field Positionings): 6-9.
“Donning the vesam in Kattaikkuttu.” In: David Shulman and Deborah Thiagarajan (eds), Masked ritual and performance in South India: dance, healing, and possession, Ann Arbor, The University of Michigan, pp. 107-134.
“Both sacred and profane: the Kattaikkuttu theatre in Tamilnadu.” In: Anjum Katyal (ed.), Sacred to profane: writings on performance and worship, London-New York-Calcutta: Seagull Books, pp. 188-223.
Review of: Katrin Fischer, Yaksagana: eine südindische Theatertradition, mit Übersetzung und Text von “Abhimanyu Kalagar”, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2004 (Drama und Theater in Südasien3). Asiatiches Studien / Études Asiatiques 60,1: 243-246.
– Review of: Susan Seizer, Stigmas of the Tamil stage: an ethnography of special drama artists in South India, Durham, NC [etc.] : Duke University Press, 2005. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12,4: 991-993.
2007  “Devadasis and village goddesses of north Tamil Nadu.” In: Heidrun Brückner, Elisabeth Schömbucher and Phillip B. Zarrilli (eds), The power of performance: actors, audiences and observers of cultural performances in India, New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 53-83.
2008  & P. Rajagopal, “Between Bisarjan and Vituttal: an Indo-Dutch (ad)venture in South Indian folk theatre.” In: Changing images, lasting visions: India and the Netherlands, The Hague (The Netherlands): Embassy of India (published by Nieuw Amsterdam Uitg.), pp. 161-163.
2009  “Life outside the text: on the background and interpretation of the Mahabharata characters in contemporary Kattaikkuttu performances.” In: Kalyan Kumar Chakravarthy (ed.), Text and variations of the Mahabharata: contextual, regional and performative traditions, New Delhi, pp. 235-246.
“Kattaikkuttu girls.” In: Lata Singh (ed.), Theatre in colonial India: play-house of power, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 241-269.
2011  & Brückner, Heidrun and Heike Moser (eds), Between shame and fame: performing women & women performers in India, Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz.

Publications: artistic work with P. Rajagopal

1987 Nalayini carittiram (The life of Nalayini), a play about leprosy produced by Hanne M. de Bruin and P. Rajagopal in co-operation with the Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karigiri (India).
1990 Enkalukkum Uyir Untu (We also live), a children’s play about speaking trees. Story, songs and dialogue: P. Rajagopal.
1991 Vilaiyattin Vilaivu (The consequences of play), a play about access to education, using a traditional theme from the epic Mahabharata, performed by a youth group. Story, songs and dialogue: P. Rajagopal.
1992 Pancha Bhutam (The five elements), an all-night environmental play, produced in cooperation with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Madras (India). Story, songs and dialogue P. Rajagopal.
1994 Veriyattam allatu Tantira Kuratti (Possession or the gypsy’s ruse), an all-night play focusing on the social and bureaucratic constraints impeding social and ecological harmony. Ideas, story, direction: P. Rajagopal and Hanne M. de Bruin; song and dialogue: P. Rajagopal; costumes: Hanne M. de Bruin.
1996 Vilvalaippu (The bending of the bow), all-night Mahabharata play by an all-woman cast.
1997 Mayakkutirai (The magic horse), children’s play on communication and power. Story and direction: P. Rajagopal and Hanne M. de Bruin; songs and dialogue: P. Rajagopal; costumes: Hanne M. de Bruin.
1998 Mahabharata , mega-production of nine hours duration by a cast of sixty actors, actresses and musicians, staged on the occasion of India’s fifty years of independence. Script, songs and direction: P. Rajagopal.
1999 Ramayana , all-night play in natakam style; story outline: P. Rajagopal and Hanne M. de Bruin; text: Venkuppattu Caka. Jeyaraman; editing of songs: Patur K. Bhupati and Nallalam S. Krishnan; direction: P. Rajagopal; costumes: Hanne M. de Bruin.
2000 South Indian Theatre Festival 2000, Kanchipuram, 3-7 March 2000.
2001 Jeya Vijaya by P. Rajagopal, a two-hour play produced for the Eleventh Kattaikkuttu Festival.
2002 Parkadal (The milky ocean) by P. Rajagopal, a contemporary parody in Kattaikkuttu style about the story of the churning of the ocean; the play focuses on the themes of identity, migration and sharing.
2003 Retake of P. Rajagopal’s Vilaiyattin Vilaivu – Students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Retake of P. Rajagopal’s The Magic Horse (Mayakkutirai) – students of the Kattaikkuttu Youth Theatre School on August 14 and 15, 2003 and broadcasted on TV by Poodigai channel on October 16 and 23, 2003.
– The eighteenth day (Patinettam Nal), an almost solo-performance by P. Rajagopal and directed by Hanne M. de Bruin for the Prithvi Theatre Festival 2003.
2004 Draupadi’s marriage or the bending of the bow (Vilvalaippu) , all-night Mahabharata play -Students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
2005 Retake of P. Rajagopal’s Possession (Veriyattam), all-night & condensed version developed for the Kuttu Festival 2005 – Students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Retake of P. Rajagopal’s Magic Horse (Mayakkudirai) developed for the Kuttu Festival 2005 – Students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Retake of P. Rajagopal’s Milky Ocean (Parkadal) developed for the Kuttu Festival 2005 – Students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Kuttu Festival 2005, Punjarasantankal, 1-6 March 2005.
2006 Dice and Disrobing (Pakatai Tukil), all-night Mahabharata play, opening of the Kuttu Kalai Kudam or Centre for performing arts, Punjarasantankal – students of the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– De Achtiende Dag (The 18th Day) (with Dutch titles), solo performance of P. Rajagopal directed by Hanne M. de Bruin developed 2006 European Tour of Kattaikkuttu Sangam ensemble.
2007 Karna Moksham, all-night version – senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Bhima and the Mandaara Flower – All Girls Company Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Daksha Yagam , all-night version – senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Vituttal , P. Rajagopal’s and Hanne M. de Bruin’s adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Bisarjan for the Tamil stage, developed for Rabindra Utsav 2007, Kolkota – Senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
2008 Kuravanchi , all-night version – Senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Disrobing of Draupadi – All Girls version developed for Contacting the World 2008, Liverpool, UK.
– Azhiyaa Sottu (Wealth nobody can steal), developed for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All) Program, Government of Tamil Nadu – Senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
2009 P. Rajagopal’s Vilaiyattin Vilaivu – Junior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Possession (Veriyattam), 90 mins version – Junior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Arjuna Tapas , all-night & condensed version – Senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Subhadra’s Marriage (Subhadra kalyanam), condensed version – All Girls Company Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
2010 Retake Kuravanchi, all night version – Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals Company and senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Kuravanchi or the Business of Good Fortune , condensed version developed for the Netherlands Business Support Office, Chennai – Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals Company.
– Dice and disrobing (Pakatai Tukil), all-night version – Senior students Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
– Disrobing of Draupadi (Tukil), 90 mins version with introduction and English titles, for Indian Traditional Theatre Festival, Ranga Shankara, Bangalore – Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals Company.
– Subhadra’s Marriage (Subhadra kalyanam), 90 min version with introduction and scene description for Indian Traditional Theatre Festival, Ranga Shankara, Bangalore – All Girls Company Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.
2011 RamaRavana, 100 mins critical view on the Ramayana, commissioned by Rustom Barucha for the 3rd Adishakti Ramayana Festival, written by P. Rajagopal and directed by P. Rajagopal & Hanne M. de Bruin – Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals Company.
2012 Abhimanyu, all-night play written by P. Rajagopal and performed by the Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals.
2013 Work-in-progress: Dice and disrobing, travelling production.