Author: Vasudha Dalmia
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195674731
This book addresses the political and aesthetic concerns of modern Indian theatre, tracing its genealogies, and looking in particular at its appropriation of folk theatre, as it sought to constitute itself anew after independence.
In the heady early decades of the nation's self-discovery, it seemed natural to turn to Hindi as the language of production. What theatrical practice could this newly realized 'national' theatre invoke? Could it really become centred in literary Hindi? Was there dramatic composition in modern Hindi, did it have any theatrical tradition? Vasudha Dalmia delves into the past, to the plays of Bharatendu Harishchandra in 1870s Banaras, and forward from there to Jayshankar Prasad and Mohan Rakesh, landmark figures in the history of modern Hindi drama.
Later, Dalmia focuses on the intense urban interaction with folk theatre forms, their politicization in the 1940s and once again in the 1970s, which was to crystallize particularly through contact with Bertolt Brecht's epic theatre. Brecht's theatre held out the promise of widening the scope of middle-class concerns, as much as of overcoming the bounds of the proscenium stage.
The overall focus of the volume is on the politics of modern Indian theatre, particularly the action and reaction inspired by official policymaking in the capital of the nation, and in a chapter devoted to just that, its international representation. The last chapter maps some of the routes taken by avant-garde women directors since the last decades of the twentieth century.
This book will be of interest to theatre students, critics, cultural historians, scholars of South Asian theatre, and general readers.
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS
I. IN SEARCH OF A NATIONAL THEATRE
1. The national drama of the Hindus: Harishchandra of Banaras and the classical traditions in late-nineteenth-century India.
2. Twentieth-century projections of the past: Jayshankar Prasad and the new subjectivity.
3. Neither half nor whole: Mohan Rakesh and the modernist quest.
II. THE NATION AND ITS FOLK
4. Folk theatre and the search for an indigenous idiom: Brecht in India.
5. Brecht in Hindi: the poetics of response.
6. To be more Brechtian is to be more Indian: on the theatre of Habib Tanvir.
III. WHAT IS INDIAN?
7. Encountering the other, accosting the self.
8. I am a Hindu: Assertions and Queries.