programme

MODERN INDIAN DRAMA AND THEATRE

Home/ MODERN INDIAN DRAMA AND THEATRE
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3294

Semester and Year Offered: II & IV

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Vikram Singh Thakur

Email of course coordinator: vikram@aud.ac.in

Pre-requisites: Knowledge of functional Hindi

Aim:

The course has been designed to introduce students of literature to modern Indian drama and theatre. The course very roughly identifies four important periods in the history of modern Indian drama and theatre. It begins by looking at the colonial modernity brought by the British theatre into India and its impact on the evolution of modern Indian drama and theatre. The early Indian theatre in a sense can be called ‘imitative’ as it tried to follow the models provided by the British theatre. This was gradually replaced by plays written in Indian languages. The last thirty years or so of the 19th century witnessed commercial theatres in India which gave rise to syncretic or hybrid theatre. Parsi theatre of Bombay is a classic example of commercial theatre that blended the Western and Indian theatrical and dramatic forms. However, by the 1930s, in the wake of high nationalism, one finds social drama and political theatre promoted by IPTA replacing the drama and theatre which were hitherto meant primarily for entertainment. After its disbandment the spirit and politics of IPTA was carried out by various individuals and theatre groups in India like Utpal Dutt and Jan Natya Manch. Also, in the wake of decolonisation, theatre in post-colonial gained a new direction where focus was on Indian history, myth, folk and tradition in addition to realism practised by many playwrights. The course thus engages with these four periods and looks at critical junctures in the history of modern theatre in India.

Course Outcomes: By the end of the course students would be able to:

  1. Identify various dramatic traditions in India
  2. Gain insight into the history of Indian theatre since Independence
  3. Analyse plays in a critical and nuanced manner
  4. Able to engage with drama creatively and critically
  5. Gain confidence in public speaking as the course involves dramatic reading of a few texts
  6. Work as a team since the presentations have been imagined as a group activity
  7. Carry out research in the field of drama and theatre
  8. Will promote self-learning as students will have to choose from texts and make presentations.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

MODULE 1: THE BEGINNINGS

This module introduces students to Indian drama and theatre – both ancient and modern. This will largely survey a brief history of drama in India covering classical Sanskrit drama, folk theatres, colonial theatres in India including the popular Parsi theatre and post-Independence theatre in India. The module will also discuss in detail one play written during the colonial period to understand modern drama as it originated during the 19th century India.

Readings:

  • Bhatia, Nandi, “Introduction”. Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader
  • Lal, Ananda, “A Historiography of Modern Indian Theatre”. Modern Indian Theatre: A
  • Reader. New Delhi: OUP, 2009.
  • Chatterjee, Sudipto. “Mise-en-(Colonial-) Scene: The Theatre of the Bengal
  • Renaissance”. Imperialism and Theatre: Essays on World Theatre, Drama,
  • and Performance 1795-1995. Ed. J. Ellen Gainor. London: Routledge, 1995
  • Mitra, Dinabandhu. Neel-Durpan (The Indigo-Mirror). Calcutta: C. H. Manuel,
  • Calcutta Printing And Publishing Press, 1861.

MODULE 2: POPULAR THEATRES

This module will look at the popular theatres in India during the colonial period. The module focusses on Parsi theatre from 1850s to 1920s and its legacy. Through various critical readings, biographies and documentaries students will be familiarised with Parsi theatre. Towrds the end of the module a play by Agha Hashr Kashmiri will be discussed in detail to understand the structure, form and performative aspects of a typical Parsi drama.

Readings:

  • Selections from Gupt, Somnath. Parsi Theatre: Its Origins and Development. Ed. &
  • Trans. Kathryn Hansen. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2005.
  • Hansen, Kathryn. “Stri Bhumika: Female Impersonators and Actresses on the Parsi Stage.” EPW 33.35 (2291-2300)
  • Kapur, Anuradha. “The Representation of Gods and Heroes: Parsi Mythological Drama of the Early Twentieth Century”.
  • Thakur, Vikram Singh. “Shakespeare in Parsi Theatre.” Shakespeare and Indian Theatre: The Politics of Performance. New Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2020.
  • Kashmiri, Agha HashrSafed Khun. Agha Hashr Kashmiri keChunindaDrame, ed. Anees Azmi, New Delhi: National School of Drama.

MODULE 3: INDIAN PEOPLE’S THEATRE ASSOCIATION AND ITS LEGACY

This module will familiarise students with IPTA which played a crucial cultural role during and after the Indian independence. The module will take into account various artists, playwrights and plays that belong to IPTA. Students will engage not only with critical readings on IPTA but also discuss a play in great detail to understand IPTA’s commitment to the social and cultural causes. Students will also be familiarised with cultural organisations like Jan Natya Manch which were inspired by IPTA.

Readings:

  • Waltz. Michael L. “The Indian People’s Theatre Association: Its Development and Influences.” Journal of South Asian Literature 13.1/4, MISCELLANY (FALL-WINTER-SPRING-SUMMER 1977-1978).
  • Bhatia, Nandi. “Performance and Protest in the Indian People’s Theatre Association.” Acts of Authority/Acts of Resistance. New Delhi: OUP, 2004.
  • Sundar, Pushpa. “Protest through Theatre – The Indian Experience”. India International Centre Quarterly 16.2 (1989)
  • Selections from Ghosh, Arjun. A History of the Jana NatyaManch: Plays for the People. New Delhi: Sage Publications India, 2012.
  • Bhattacharya, Bijon. Nabanna. Tr. Arjun Ghosh. Nabanna: Of Famine and Resilience: A Play. New Delhi, Rupa, 2018.

MODULE 4: RE-INVENTING THE SELF: THE POST-INDEPENDENCE THEATRE

This module introduces students to post-Independence theatre in India. The idea is to look at historical debates surrounding Indian theatre post-1947. How did Indian theatre makers envisage a theatre that would reflect “Indianness”. Efforts went into decolonising theatre and towards that end there was focus on Indian history, mythology, folk and traditional arts to create contemporary theatre. The module would familiarise students with such issues and discuss one play in detail.

Readings:

  • Dharwadker, Aparna. “The Formation of a New National Canon.” Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India since 1947. New Delhi: OUP, 2006.
  • _________________. “The Critique of Western Modernity in Post-Independence India.” Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader. Ed. Nandi Bhatia. New Delhi: OUP, 2009.
  • Awasthi, Suresh. “‘Theatre of Roots’: Encounter with Tradition”. TDR 33.4 (1989).
  • Deshpande, G. P. “Fetish of Folk and Classic” SangeetNatakSpecial Issue: Traditional Idiom in Contemporary Theatre (No. 77-8, July-December, 1985)
  • Habib, Tanvir. CharandasChor. Trans. Anjum Katyal. Calcutta: Seagull, 2004.
  • Karnad, Girish. Hayavadana. New Delhi: Oxford University Press,1998.

Proposed Online Assessment Structure:

Assessment Situation No.

Weight

Description and remarks (if any)

Tentative date of assessment

Assessment situation 1

30%

Seminar/Presentation

Throughout

Assessment situation 2

40%

Term Paper

End of the semester

Assessment situation 3

30%

Mid semester exam