Indian Theatre: Theatre of Origin, Theatre of Freedom
Book: Indian Theatre: Theatre of Origin, Theatre of Freedom
Written by: Ralph Yarrow
Published by: Curzon Press, 2001
The book ‘Indian Theatre: Theatre of Origin, Theatre of Freedom’ by Ralph Yarrow investigates questions such as why so many Western theatre workers in the last fifty years have been drawn to Indian (and other Asian) theatre. What is it that seemed to be lacking in Western performance and understanding of the nature and function of theatre? Concerning Indian theatre, the book offers a comprehensive view of both traditional and contemporary Indian theatre, as well as a thorough examination of its techniques and practices. In the words of Ralph Yarrow, “I have explored ways in which Indian theatre works both as a model of processes of origination and as an opening into wider dimensions of being and understanding, whether that is perceived in aesthetic, political, or psychological terms” (p. 198).
The book is divided into six chapters. In the introduction, Ralph Yarrow explores the definition of theatre from both Western and Eastern viewpoints. The second chapter examines the question of where the ‘origins’ of Indian theatre lie: in performance or in ‘text’ with regard to the Natyashastra. Chapters three and four discuss the types of theories that have been applied to Indian theatre, focusing on performance, aesthetics, and Sanskrit drama. Chapter five explores Indian theatre in the contemporary world with the objective of disassociating theatre from colonialist models, addressing the question of nationalism versus regionalism, discussing theatre activities and the cultural politics surrounding them, and considering the theatre of development approach. The last chapter concludes by discussing questions such as what the West has gained, stating that
“Indian theatre raises questions such as the nature of reality, the status and function of narrative and performance, and what the business of acting, and of attending acutely to what is enacted. discloses about the nature of the self and its modes of operation” (p.199).