Hagalu Vesha (hagalu vESa) (ಹಗಲುವೇಷ) is a theatrical performance, that is given during the day without recourse to a proper theatre and stage property. The performers belong to a small community known as ‘bahurUpi’ or ‘jAtigAra. There are references to these artists and community as early as the twelfth century. This nomadic community traces its origin to Andhrapradesh and they speak a dialect of Telugu known as ‘maraga BASe.’ In Andhra Pradesh these actors are known as ‘pagaTi vESagAra’. They have a fixed schedule all through the year and a given troupe visits the same villages again and again.
These artists produce more than thirty episodes culled out of mythology, history and contemporary life. The range stretches from mOhini-BasmAsura to a policeman of our times. Consequently there is an element of spontaneity in their performances. They can impersonate mythological, divine, or social characters and can present events of even daily life. Some of them have the skill of producing a full-length play like a professional performing troupe.Their costumes and makeup are very simple and innovative. They have a number of stones of different colours. These stones ground in to a paste serve as substitutes for paint. Some fibrous material is dyed black and is used as makeshift beard and moustache. They move from house to house and enact their play in installments. Consequently, they are followed around by a retinue of curious onlookers. They know most of the songs by rote and they do not change the broad outlines of the story. However they exercise their creative talents when presenting humorous episodes. They collect alms in cash and kind at the end of the month before moving on to the next village. Their acting prowess is legendary.