There are several folklore drama varieties in Kerala which are all having very ancient tradition.Some are meant for ritualistic purposes whereas many others are for entertainment purposes only.These kind of dramas use musical instruments like "Murichenda,Kudam,Veena,Thudi,Udukku,Cheenikuzhal,Olakkinnam,Chenda,Chengila,Thoppimaddalam,Thakil,Kuzhithalam,Maddalam" etc.Many of these drama varieties were performed by particular communal groups previously but now a days anybody who are trained can perform them.Folklore songs are also used for the manifestation of such art forms traditionally.There is only a narrow boundary to separate folklore dramas from folklore dance varieties.These art forms become appealing to the audience because of the excellence of the songs used for them and the enchanting orchestra accompanying them.
A picture of ancient Kerala can be understood from some of the folklore songs.The relationship between Arabs and Kerala, trade relation between some other places in India,details of some ancient ports,details and description to make wooden cruise ships, etc are known from some folklore songs.
At Central Travancore areas and in all parts of Trivandrum District "Kakkarassi Nadakam' is very popular.(Nadakam=Drama).It has a mixed flavour of 'Purattu Kali' and musical drama.This art form is also known as 'Kakkala Nadakam,Kakkalichi Nadakam,Kakkaru Kali' etc also.This drama form came in to existence from the belief that Lord Shiv-Parvathi used to wander in the form as 'Kuravan' and 'Kurathi' (A community group of people who loved travelling).Dance,Music and Acting are mingled nicely in this art form.Musical instruments such as 'Mridangam,Ganchira,Harmonium,Ilathalam,' etc are used for it.This drama variety is used effectively to tease the social evils prevailing in the society and corrupted leaders.
In the folklore drama varieties it is not difficult for the audience to understand the theme.The audience may also get chance to directly involve in them or to say their opinion or ask questions directly to the characters.When the character is depicted as a deity or God the people used to describe their sorrows and demands directly to them.There were no particular stages made for many of these dramas but performed in the centre of a group of villagers on the ground itself usually in the compound of Bhagavathi Temples known as 'Kavu'.The relationship between the dancers and audience is revealed today also from the art forms such as "Theyyam,Thira,Theeyattu,Mudiyettu,Kaliyoottu,Padayani,Chimmanakkali,Kothamooriyattam' etc.
"Mudiyettu,Kaliyoottu,Paranettu,Mudipechu' etc are termed as 'Kali Nadakam' or dramas related to Goddess 'Kali'.The theme is Kali-Darika fight.During the course of time dramas such as 'Kurathiyattam,Chavittu nadakam,Meenakshi Kalyanam,Kamsa Nadakam, Sanghakkali'etc evolved.
'Malayikoothu' is seen at a temple of Kannur District.'Kannikettu' is another drama found in Kannur District.'Theyyattu' is found in Kozhikkodu district which is ritualistic.
'Kamsa nadakam' and 'Meenakshi Kalyanam' imitates Kathakali.'Kakkarassi Nadakam and Kurathiyattam are meant for entertainment purposes.'Ezhamathu kali' and 'Seethakali' of Kollam district are also for entertainment.Purattu nadakam is very popular in north Kerala which are in many names such as 'Eravakali,Aandikoothu,Vallonkali,Malamakkali' etc.
'Chaliya porattu,Kothamuriyattam, etc are all folklore drama varieties.
Drama variety used to comment on social evils is 'Chimmanakkali'.This same purpose was intended for 'Kenthron Pattu' "Kannal Pattu' 'Maaran Pattu' etc also.