Sunday, 3 August 2014

Indian theatre

Indian theatre has an  a rich tradition of performance practice , history of over two thousand years.   Bharata produced an encyclopaedic manual on theatre called Natyashastra which became the basis Indian performances genres for centuries to come. The aesthetic theory of rasa practice for more than a millennium.

 Bhasa, Kalidasa, Shudraka, Vishakadatta, Bhavabhuti and Harsha are great Sanskrit drama eminents live in first millennium . Their works compares with  the  theatre traditions of the world ancient Greek theatre and Elizabethan theatre. The glory of ancient Sanskrit drama ended with the first millennium. The medieval period witnessed the emergence of regional language literatures also folk and ritualistic theatres flourished throughout this period. Because of Bhakti movement considerable innovations happened in religious drama. During 18th and 19th centuries British colonial interregnum Indian drama was reborn.

Parsi theatre

The new urban theatre is popularly known as Parsi theatre. The rise of urban middle and working classes due to industrailazation made the path of  Parsi theatre developement.  This genre was an interesting mixture of Western Naturalistic drama, opera and several local elements. Spectacle based on huge settings and colourful backdrops was an essential part of it. The stage was normally divided into front and back for the staging of main and subsidiary action. Music was its life-breath. The actors of this theatre were also great singers. The acting became naturalistic and melodramatic in contrast to the stylized techniques of traditional Indian theatre. Parsi theatre productions chose their story-lines from diverse sources: popular mythological, folklore and contemporary life.Geared to amuse urban middle and working classes. 
Parsi theatre was acted out in interior spaces, now called proscenium theatre.  This theatre produces a plot of melodrama, humour, romance and social criticism. It developed in newly emerging big cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mubai and Chennai form late 19th century. This  form of professional theatre performed by professional groups, sometimes travelling, was the only source of mass entertainment before the emergence of cinema. With their emphasis on music, spectacle and melodrama, their productions became the paradigms for Indian cinema. Except in some states like Maharashtra and Assam, entertainment theatre was gradually supplanted by popular cinema by 1970's. Though entertainment theatre thrilled masses, it elicited criticism from sensitive sections of modern Indian population, particularly from educated people.

Literary drama or  amateur theatre

Literary drama was the output of great Indian language writers in different parts of India. The most famous of such playwrights was Rabindranath Tagore, who enriched the genre of drama as much as he enriched poetry and fiction. Some of his plays like Chitrangada, a musical play and Post-office, became internationally well-known and performed in Europe and North America. His plays, which are the classics of world drama, were orchestrations of rich poetry, symbolism, socio-political criticism and cosmic vision. 
Amateur theatre is theatre performed by amateur actors. These actors are not professional actors  or  unlikely to be a member of an Actors' Union, Many amateurs do provide a source of entertainment for their local communities and amateur theatre can be a fun and exciting hobby, with strong bonds of friendship formed through participation in community organized theatrical events. Amateur Theatre is common in most urban centres; notably, it is staged in summer schools and in formal amateur companies. Amateur theatre is a convenient way for lay people to gain acting and stage experience, for pleasure and amusement.  Technically speaking, an  "amateur" is anyone who does not accept, or is not offered, money for their services. One interpretation of this is"One lacking the skill of a professional, as in an artThe relationship between amateurs and professionals in a theatrical context is the subject of debate in many countries. Professionals argue that the amateur community devalues the art form and damages the industry, through the promotion of unskilled performers, directors and crew. On the other hand, amateurs continue to argue that they perform a community service, and many practitioners accrue considerable experience and skills, which may be transferred to the professional industry, if they are lucky. There are a considerable number of "jobbing" actors who had their start in amateur theatre. In the United States Amateur Theatre is generally known as community theatre.
Most of India's modern theatre may be categorized as amateur; that is theatre in which majority of those who participate do so with little expectation of earning a living. The quality of amateur theatre is quite high in Calcutta It is said that  3000 registered theatre , five hundred amateur group functioning in Bombay and 2500 in the state of Maharashtra. 

Theatre organisations are either autonomous bodies or they are a part of larger cultural organisation sstrong personalities & dedicated workers. The Indian National Theatre is a cosmopolitan theatre organization sponsoring theatre productions in Marathi , Gujrati, Hindi & English.  Prithiviraj Raj , famous film actor was a pioneer through his Prithvi Theatre in nurturing Hindi theatre . According to the State Academy of Music , Dance & Drama, Films & Folk Arts , Madras (Chennai) has about fifty registered group, most of which perform plays in Tamil , the language of Tamil Nadu. 

After independence, the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was also a great votary of culture, wanted to ensure that the arts flourish without sate interference in the new democratic order. He therefore established several national academies which, though funded by the state, would function with autonomy to preserve and nurture the growth of the arts. Sangeet Natak Akademi (Music and Performing Arts Akademi) was set up to further performing arts including theatre.

Amateur movement has mostly given way to drama school theatre by the turn of the century, some of the active troupes have turned into semi-professional drama schools involving amateurs. They continue to keep the theatre scene active.
Other institutions fostering Indian theatre today are departments of culture both at national and state levels. State government-run academies are playing an active role in keeping theatre alive and growing by conferring awards, organizing festivals and providing funds.
Indian theatre has gone through different avatars in the post-independence period. During the phase of modernism, it produced internationally acclaimed play-wrights like Vijay Tendulkar, Badal Sarcar, Dharmaveer Bharati, Mohan Rakesh and Girish Karnad, Chandrashekhar Kambar, P Lankesh and Indira Parthasarati, whose works have been widely performed and discussed. Performed in 24 major languages and in many tribal languages and in English, Indian theatre today has infinite varieties and potentials, which is still attracting audiences in spite of the overwhelming popularity of its rivals-cinema and television. It is therefore one of the most potent expressions of contemporary India and the world.

Traditional Indian theatre                            
Kuttiyatam is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre, thought to have originated around the beginning of the Common Era, and is officially recognised by UNESCO as a  Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.In addition, many forms of Indian folk theatre abound. Bhavai (strolling players) is a popular folk theatre form of Gijarat, said to have arisen in the 14th century CE. Jatra has been popular in Bengal and its origin is traced to the Bhakti movement in the 16th century. Another folk theatre form which is dialogue-oriented rather than movement-oriented and is considered to have arisen in its present form in the late 18th - early 19th centuries. Yakshagana is a very popular theatre art in Karnataka and has existed under different names at least since the 16th century. It is semi-classical in nature and involves music and songs based on carnatic music, rich costumes, storylines based on the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It also employs spoken dialogue in-between its songs that gives it a folk art flavour. Kathakali is a form of dance-drama, characteristic of Kerala, that arose in the 17th century, developing from the temple-art plays Krishnanattam and Ramanattam.