Dr. Sivaraman, our illustrious alumnus, and currently, Asst Professor of English, Presidency College, gave the third guest lecture of this academic year, on Post-independence Indian Theatre in Selaiyur Hall Indoor Theatre, at 10:45 am. Dr. S. Stephen Jebanesan welcomed the I & II yr PG students of English Litt for the lecture. Dr. K. Ganesh introduced the guest of the day. Dr. Sivaraman then proceeded to give incisive and scholarly insights into Post-independence Indian Theatre.
Excerpts from his lecture:
“there’s not even a single language in India that all Indians can understand. That describes the essential plurality of our country. Indeed, India, unlike other countries, is known for its plurality – a plurality that is a peculiarity. If we don’t understand this plurality, then, that’s necessarily a weakness.
So, there’s no theatrical concept that can be applied to all theatrical groups in India. Hence the label ‘Indian Theatre’ in singular form is irrelevant in our pluralistic set up.
India as a political establishment did not come into force till the arrival of the British in India in the 18th century. The history of Indian Theater can be broadly classified under three categories:
Ancient Indian theater (pre-colonial),
Colonial history of Indian theater (Arrival of British colonizers)
Post-colonial/post-independent/postmodern/contemporary Indian Theatre.
In the Ancient Indian theatre, when India was not yet politically established as a nation, the unity in diversity came about through culture.
Pre-colonial theatre had two types:
Classical (Sanskrit) Theatre, andFolk/other popular forms of regional theatre
They both shared certain different aesthetics/commonalities.
Moreover, the shift from the pre-modern to modern theatre was not difficult as was the case with the history of European theatre. In European theatre, the term modernity gets problematised.
Modernity in Indian Theatre can be said to begin with the arrival of the colonizers in the 18th century. In 1827 Wilson published Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus where Wilson calls the Indian theatre as specifically Hindu theatre. There are a host of similar books in the 19th and 20th centuries by Oriental scholars which have equated Indian theatre with Sanskrit theatre.
When the folk form undergoes a syncretic process, it becomes an urban folk form.
Dr. Sivaraman then proceeded to give the influence of foreign playwrights on post-independence playwrights, the main influence being that of Bertold Brecht’s epic theatre, who no longer considered a play as a product, but as a process.
to be contd...