THIS year is the UK India Year of Culture and Barnoldswick will be celebrating this by bringing the colourful ancient art of Kathakali to the stage.

The Rainhall Centre will welcome the renowned Kala Chethena Kathakali Company, from Kerala, South India, who will perform a Kathakali play at 7pm on Friday, October 27.

Kathakali combines theatre, storytelling, dance, drama, music, vibrant costumes and the centuries-old, highly skilled art of makeup called ‘chutti’.

Before the performance there will be a demonstration of how the actor tells a story, followed by a short film, to lead the audience into the Kathakali play which reflects the rich cultural identity of the people of Kerala in south India.

The theatre company was founded in 1987 by Keralan actor Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and Lancashire-born Kathakali make-up specialist Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar, who met while studying at the centre for the study of arts and culture in Kerala.

Barbara, who is the first female chutti (make-up artist) in the world, had an incredible journey overland from Lancashire to India.

She travelled alone in 1972 hitchhiking through Europe and Turkey, crossing the deserts of Iran, passing through the mountains of Afghanistan on the top of a lorry, a bicycle and a donkey, the Khyber Pass, Pakistan, into northern India and finally settling in Kerala.

By pure chance, Barbara got off a train at the wrong stop in Kerala and the rest is history.

The show forms part of Spot On Lancashire’s autumn season of touring, taking professional arts events to village halls and libraries across the county.

Speaking ahead of the performance, Spot On’s Lyndsey Wilson said: “We’re really excited to bring art from Kerala to Barnoldswick. The show highlights how a kid from a council estate in Rochdale can take an amazing adventure and find themselves following a completely different path!

“Being able to help Barbara bring her company back to where her adventure began is an honour and a privilege, and we can’t wait to share her experiences with our audiences.”

Tickets for the Rainhall Centre show cost £8 advance, £9 on the door or £30 for a group of four in advance.

To book tickets ring 01282 345200.