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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

Poetics, Plays and Performance: the Politics of Modern Indian Theatre

Book: Poetics, Plays and Performance: the Politics of Modern Indian Theatre
Written by: Vasudha Dalmia
Published by: Oxford University Press, 2006

In ‘Poetics, Plays and Performance: The Politics of Modern Indian Theatre,’ Vasudha Dalmia traces the genealogy of modern Hindi theatre from a colonial towards a postcolonial timeline and simultaneously explores aesthetic and political issues concerning the emergence of modernity, self-discovery, and national self-projection reflected in “national” theatre. The author sheds light on the complex and contested nature of “Indian,” “modern,” and “national” theatre, examining how these terms and definitions intersect and evolve in response to anticolonial nationalist movements, Western influences, post-independence policies in Delhi, and the politics surrounding language and interregional translation.

The book is devised into three sections comprising of eight chapters. The first section ‘In Search of National Theatre’ consists of three essays, and delves into the emergence of Hindi theatre. The three essays in this section focus respectively on Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850–85) and his role in the emergence of the national drama of Hindus, Jayshankar Prasad (1889–1937) and the new subjectivity of Hindi dramaturgy, and Mohan Rakesh (1929–72), with whom realism in urban drama reached a new climax. The second section, ‘The Nation and its Folk’ looks into the rising importance of ‘folk’ theatre, the influence of Brecht in theatre, and the politicization and utilization of folk forms by IPTA and Habib Tanvir. The third section, ‘What is Indian’ discusses the notion of “Indian” theatre as represented in the international context by both non-Indian and Indian theatre people, by placing them in the framework of interculturalism.

“if it was more Brechtian to be more Indian, the question as to what constituted ‘Indian’ still remained to be answered, even if in the festival circuit, it seemed to be find an easy answer in the loosely assembled assortment of ‘folk’, ‘classical’, and ‘folk’ made urban, which was now to constitute an unreflected Indianness.” (p.13)

Poetics, Plays and Performance- the Politics of Modern Indian Theatre Written by- Vasudha Dalmia