This book addresses the political and aesthetic concerns of modern Indian theatre, tracing its genealogies, and looking in particular at its genealogies, and looking in particular at its appropriation of 'folk' theatre, as it sought to constitute itself anew after Independence.
In the heady early decades of the nation's self-discovery, it seemed natural to turn to Hindi as the language of production. What theatrical practice could this newly realized 'national' theatre invoke? Could it really become centred in literary Hindi? Was there dramatic composition in modern Hindi, did it have any theatrical tradition? Vasudha Dalmia delves into the past, to the plays of Bharatendu Harishchandra in 1870s Banaras, and forward from there to Jayshankar Prasad and Mohan Rakesh, landmark figures in the history of modern Hindi drama.
Later, Dalmia focuses on the intense urban interaction with folk theatre forms, their politicization in the 1940s and once again in the 1970s, which was to crystallize particularly through contact with Bertolt Brecht's epic theatre. Brecht's theatre held out the promise of widening the scope of middle-class concerns, as much as of overcoming the bounds of the proscenium stage.
The overall focus of the volume is on the politics of modern Indian theatre, particularly the action and reaction inspired by official policymaking in the capital of the nation, and in a chapter devoted to just that, its international representation. The last chapter maps some of the routes taken by avant-garde women directors since the last decades of the twentieth century.
This book will be of interest to theatre students, critics, cultural historians, scholars of South Asian theatre, and general readers.
About the Author :
Vasudha Dalmia is Professor of Hindi and Modern South Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. She has researched and published widely on Hinduism, colonial and postcolonial Hindi literature, medieval Indian religiosity, and modern Indian theatre.
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