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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

Theatre of Roots: Rendering The Modern Indian Stage

Book: Theatre of Roots: Rendering The Modern Indian Stage
Written by:Erin B. Mee
Published by:Seagull Books, 2007

Erin B. Mee’s book ‘Theatre of Roots: Redirecting the Modern Indian Stage’ offers an illuminating account of theatre of roots movements in India. It delves into how this movement “decolonizes” the aesthetics of modern Indian theatre, questioning the visual elements, practices, and dramaturgical models that emerged during British imperial rule and influenced realistic performance in India.

The book, consisting of six chapters, intertwines in-depth examinations of plays, rehearsals, live and video productions with analyses of the discussions and debates within the Sangeet Natak Akademi. In the introduction and in the first chapter, Mee explores the origins of the theatre of roots by navigating through institutional and creative cultural practices, reading important texts in Indian theatre history. She engages with the topics such as colonial theatre history, tradition and modernity, the idea of India, the folk theatre and traditional performances and so on.In the second chapter, Mee shifts focus towards the influential theatre director KN Panikkar. In the third chapter, she moves beyond rehearsal and production techniques, embodying the roots movement in Girish Karnad’s “modern Play”- ‘Hayavadana’. In the fourth chapter, Mee explores the construction of ‘national theatre’ through Sangeet Natak Akademi. Mee, in the fifth chapter, examines Ratan Thiyam’s theatre within Manipur’s political landscape, exploring its place in regional, national, and international contexts. Concluding in the final chapter, she highlights the contributions of women directors, and contemporary critical reception of the roots movement exploring the works of Maya Rao and Arjun Raina and others.

“Given the colonial influence over development if modern theatre, the separation between theatre and performance and between urban and rural culture, and the renewed interest in folk theatre as representative of what was truly and authentically ‘Indian’, it is almost inevitable that the response to the call for a national theatre would take the form of theatre of roots movement” (p91)

Theatre of Roots- Rendering The Modern Indian Stage