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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing From The Archive

Acts of Authority/ Acts of Resistance: Theatre and Politics in Colonial and Postcolonial India

Book: Acts of Authority/ Acts of Resistance: Theatre and Politics in Colonial and Postcolonial India
Written by: Nandi Bhatia (English)
Published by: University of Michigan Press, 2004

Nandi Bhatia’s ‘Acts of Authority/ Acts of Resistance’, focuses on the interwoven relation between politics and performance and explores the centrality of theatre in the structuring of nationalist cannons and of anti-colonial resistance in India. Researching genres of performance in a colonial, as well as in a post-colonial historical context, the author argues that theatre had a significant role in the subversion of colonial and post- colonial structures of authority, by challenging political and cultural power through the staging of plays with subjects from mythology, history, and available colonial models such as Shakespeare, as well as realist plays, like ‘Neel Darpan’ (The Indigo Planting Mirror by Dinabandhu Mitra). Bhatia places performance in a global and transcultural context by paying attention to local histories within a postcolonial framework. The author employs archival research along with close readings of particular dramatic texts performed at crucial junctures of history to corroborate the basic premises of the book.

“In its dramatization of the incident, ‘Gaekwar Durpan’ exposed the malpractices of planting false courtroom evidence, the framing of witnesses, the power exercised by the British army, and the ways in which the British pit­ ted natives against each other.

Such representation of the humiliating processes of colonial subjugation through the public forum of the stage exhibits a firm nationalist commitment toward dramatizing concerns that reveal the contradictions between the colonial government’s claims about its “civilizing mission” and its prac­tices. Presenting the colonial power in a position clearly oppositional to the interests of the ruled, ‘Gaekwar Durpan’ and ‘Chakar Durpan’ show the conditions that forced natives into subordination.” (page 38)

Act of Resistance