Born on 16 October 1953 in Purisai village in Thiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, Shri Purisai Kannappa Sambandan is a fifth-generation Therukoothu artist. He was initiated into this ritual theatre, centred in his village, by his father Kannappa Thambiran. His training continued for fourteen years, ending in 1985. During this period and afterwards, Shri Sambandan seized opportunities to train himself also in the modern theatre, at tending workshops conducted by Bansi Kaul, Badal Sircar, Peter Brook and other directors. These workshops honed his acting skills, teaching him to use body and voice to fuller effect.
Shri Sambandan has played principal roles in many traditional Koothus, acting as Arjunan in Vil Valaippu, Duchassanan in Draupati Vasthraparanam, Duryodhanan in Rajasuya Yaagam, Karnan, Arjunan, and Bheeman in Karna Motchamm, and Abhimanyu in Veera Abhimanyu to name but a few. In modern plays cast in the manner of Koothu, he has received acclaim for roles such as the Judge in Vellai Vattam, and adaptation of Brecht's Tile Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by K.S. Rajendran; and as Pelayo in An Old Man with Huge Wings, based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez's fiction, which Shri Sambandan himself directed and presented at the fifth International Theatre Festival at Bogota (1996). He has also appeared in England directed by N. Muthuswamy, and Kaalam Kaalamaaga directed by P. Krishnamoorthy. Shri Sambandan has himself directed the Brecht centenary Koothu production of Tile Caucasian Chalk Circle (1998), a humorous drama based on Thenali Raman of Tamil folklore, and a Koothu version of Bhasa's Sanskrit play Doota Ghatotkacham. He has choreographed the production of Avanthi Meduri's God Has Changed His Name for the Koothu -P-Pattarai group. He has conducted Theru koothu workshops at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, at the University of Pondicherry, and at Bhaskar's Arts Academy, Singapore. He has travelled to many cities in India and performed in several countries - France, Sweden, the United States, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Colombia - with his company of players.
Shri Kannappa Sambandan is a recipient of the title Kalaimamani (1995) conferred by the Tamiladu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram.