Theru Koothu is a folk theatre performed in the open during temple festivals of Rain goddess Mariyamman and Draupathyamman in villages of Tamilnadu especially North Arcot, South Arcot and Thanjavur Districts. Costumes make-up and music play significant roles in the perfomance. Spontaneous delivery of dialogues, effective use of humour dance movements’ music etc... make Theru Koothu unique in itself.
The perfomance is held in an open air theatre called ‘shabai’. It is approximately 14 feet wide and 16 feet long. The themes are usually drawn from Mahabharata. Some popular items on the therukoothu repertoire include Draupathy Vastraparanam (disrobing of Draupathy) Karna Moksham (defeat of Karna), Prahalada Charithram (story of Prahalda), Bagiratha Prayathanam (Bagiratha’s efforts to bring Ganges earth) Kandavavana Thaganam etc. Other themes on creating social awareness are also staged. The musical instruments used include Harmonium, Mirudangam, Mugaveena, Kanjara and Thaala.
The most distinguising feature of Theru Koothu is the part played by Kattiyakkaran, the Buffoon or the interlocutor who introduces all characters for first appearance. Where ever the story cannot be narrated by perfomance he forwards the story with prose. He also gives a detailed explanation of the story / event to helped audience to know the plot.
Theru Koothu is not only a medium of entertainment for rural folk it is also a ritual associated with the Draupathy temples dotting rural Tamilnadu where the last day of Mahabharatha Koothu turns into a ritual killing Duryodhana participated by the villagers.