Theatre Documentation through Photographs: Analyzing the dearth in the practice through exhibition brochure (Photographs on Theatre in the Seventies) and magazine (Rang Manch, Kala Mandir).
“Just as a shattered face caught in a sequence of shots can project a shattered social system, so the emptiness of a setting can embody the emptiness of the time. A set can be designed in such terms, but the photographer may not be able to capture that dimension. ‘Everyone is not a poet. There are only a few that are.” – Debashis Dasgupta, Brochure of Exhibition of Photographs, Theatre in the Seventies, Calcutta, 1981
The brochure of an exhibition of theatre photographs from the seventies at the Calcutta Information Centre which took place from 30th April – 6th May 1981, carried an article by Tapas Sen explaining the lack of documentation on theatre in form of photographs, slides, films and tape recordings even after the improvement in photography and recording technology in India.
The scarcity of visual documentation for an ocular form like theatre/ performance can be observed in theatre magazines, which carried an inadequate number of photographs on theatre. Such a phenomenon allows one to interrogate the conditions and economies in which theatre magazines were produced and circulated. For example, state-owned magazines like ICCR’s Cultural News from India disseminated information on the state-sponsored cultural events covering productions of institutions like NSD Repertory Company’s festival of plays along with production photographs. In contrast, privately owned theatre magazines catering to regional news, having a limited reach and circulation, carried few to no images.
All Courtesy: Anand Gupt Collection/ Akazi Theatre Archives