Padya natakam(Mythological stage play) is an oldest form in Telugu Theater arts.It came in to existence at least 205 years ago.Due to the influence of Dharwada Nataka Samajam,who toured South India by giving stage performances,some enthusiasts prepared to perform natakams on the same venues where Dharwada Samajam gave their stage shows. In those earlier days curtains,gasoline lights,silk dresses,costumes and make up were provided to the artists to enhance the quality of performances.Several tricks like Narada entering on to stage amidst clouds and wire works were also introduced.”Surabhi”,the oldest theater group consisting dedicated families have been playing these natakams for the past two centuries.
Initially there were dramas based on prose.Subsequently,poems were incarporated.These poems(Padyams)were composed in ragas like Kalyani, Mohana, Hindola, Abheri, Madhyamavati, Mukhari, Khamas,Tilakamod, Kapi, Shankarabharanam, Kedaragoula, Simhendramdhyamam and Bhairavi etc. Basic supporting instument used in these dramas is Harmonium. Violin,Veena, Flute, Tabala, Mrudangam are also used.
Several stalwarts like,Bellari Raghava, Banda Kanakalingeshwar Rao, Sthanam Narasimha Rao, Abburi Varaprasada Rao, Madhavapeddi venkatramiah, Kalyanam Raghuramiah, Peesapati Narasimha Murthy, Shanmukhi Anjaneya Raju,Malladi Suryanarayana,A.V.Subba Rao and D.V.Subba Rao made immemorable contributions by playing mythological roles like, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Harischandra,Duryodhana etc..,