Monday, May 21, 2007

CYMA hall in Alleppey

The CYMA hall is an old, traditional building. It is located in a quiet and peaceful part of Alleppey. It is Kerala’s first public auditorium built for staging dramas.

"This hall was constructed for the common man’s use, without any aid from government agencies. It all began in 1920 when some men came together to form an organisation called the Catholic Young Men’s Association (CYMA). It included writers, scenic designers, costume designers, stage technique experts, make-up and lighting artistes, amateur actors and theatre directors.

The construction was started in 1926 and the hall was completed in 1934. The building has a magnificent arcade. There are twin columns and horizontal mouldings. The arcade has on its either side, two semi-hexagonal rooms that is a style based on Venetian architecture. The roof has mangalore tiles in the Kerala style."

As you begin to walk towards the hall, one cannot but be touched by its serene grandeur. As you continue to look at the sunlight that falls on its walls and the patterns that the carved wooden fascias make, you notice a large newspaper clipping pasted on a wall across the road. As you pass it by on your left, you realise it has a photograph in black and white of the very building you admire on your right. The half page article is written by an architect, George Kochupurackal. It is from here that you get your information on the history of the hall.

In India, when you walk into the Golconda fort or into the Konark temple, there is a standard blue painted board with white text that describes the monument in front of you. It is often about the history of the building or the fort and sometimes about “this is a protected monument” Here, in Alappuzha, there was a building that young men strove to build many years ago, historical events took place here in addition to their dramas and so many years later, someone wrote about it. A few weeks or months later, someone pasted the story about building and people on this very street. As strangers to the city, you see, you read and you become a part of the collective memory of the place.

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