G. Sankara Pillai, considered the father of modern theatre in Kerala, started his career as a school teacher in 1952. Then he joined Pathanamthitta Catholic College as a lecturer of Malayalam.In those days, folk traditions of Kerala, especially folk songs, interested him and he did in-depth research on the topic, and this later helped him a lot in his approach to theatre.In 1977, after serving in a variety of institutions such as Gandhigram Rural Institute, Malayalam Lexicon and Sasthamkotta Devaswom Board College, Sankara Pillai joined Calicut University’s School of Drama. He was the institution’s first director. In 1988 he moved to M.G. University in Kottayam as Director of School of Letters.`Snehadoothan,’ written in 1957, was his debut play. Pillai wrote about 75 plays, including one-act plays, street plays and plays for children. `Malayala Nataka Sahitya Charitram’ is another famous work by this maestro, who was also a Gandhian. He was the artistic director of Rangaprabath.
Prof. G.Sankara Pillai was one of the most versatile and towering personalities of Indian literature and the theatre scene. Belonging to a generation of eminent Malayalam writers deeply rooted in the rich soil of Kerala, he ascended great heights and imbibed the cultures of other regions. A pathfinder and leader of great stature, he was committed to create bridges between the theatre of the Earth and Contemporary sensibility through his writings, theatre direction and teaching. He initiated a new movement in Kerala and elsewhere.
He rose to eminence as an authentic experimenter and creative reformer in Malayalam Theatre. Besides influencing contemporary Indian Theatre considerably Prof. Pillai has left a rich legacy in healthy theatre practices. His emergence initially through some of the finest plays in Malayalam was promptly and confidently followed by concrete theatre expressions and experiments which included well-meant training programmes for actors, audience, writers and all those who are associated with theatre.
Perhaps never before on the Indian scene such a comprehensive approach to theatre was initiated by any one taking into account the richness, vibrance and adapt ability of the traditional theatre. He appeared to have combined in him several roles such as playwright, actor, director, theatre historian, orator, writer, and trainer of theatre enthusiasts, folklore researcher, and editor. There emerged soon what was known as Sankara Pillai Style in Indian theatre and he became a prophet of the Malayalam theatre heralding a new era in theatre practices, play-writing and play appreciation.