Interpreting Theatre and Performance: Social, Historical and Culture models

- Prof Bishnupriya Dutt

The course is an introduction to a historical, theoretical and conceptual understanding of approaches to study in Theatre, Popular Performances, Dance, Music, Dramatic texts and critical literature. It looks at a broad range of contemporary performances in India through innovative subject related and interdisciplinary approaches as well as more traditional research methodologies. One of the most important emphases and departures from conventional approaches will be looking practical training in research skills, e.g. methods of locating, managing and analyzing textual, visual and oral sources; literature reviews; audio-visual technologies and communication techniques; argumentation and interpretation and ways of designing experiments in performance. You will study a variety of performance genres, media, and historical periods through an exemplary range of play scripts, theories of performance, and performance styles and genres, including dance and physical theatre, popular film, tragedy, epic theatre, political and community theatre.

Module I :
• History as 'Living Traditions' or "History at work" and locating the origin of genealogies of Theatre and Drama. Mapping history, historiography and historical methods. Sites as History. Ritual and Sacrifice as Theatre.
• Canonization of drama, theatre and Acting methods. Sanskrit drama in classical and post colonial context.. Natyashastra as a contemporary actor's manual.
• Court and the Popular Living Traditions: The State and the popular carnival. The classical and the Subversive.

Module II :
• The dichotomy between tradition and 'theatre': The colonial Imperial paradigm and the marginalization and annihilation of the popular .
• The 'theatre' traditions: Parsi theatre, Bengali theatre, Marathi theatre. Staging Orientalism.
• Nationalist negotiations: within the theatre and alternative spaces Reconstructing traditions.
• Post independent discourses of theatre. Institutionalization of theatre. Inventing of traditions; uses and misuse.
• The Dance and Music components will be taught as graduate seminars.

Key Readings:

• Iravati Karve, Performing Artistes in Ancient India, Delhi 2003,

• Rachel Van Braumer and James R. Brandon, Sanskrit Drama in Performance, Delhi, 1981.

• Anupa Pande, A Historical and Cultural Study of the Natyashastra of Bharata, Jodhpur 1991 (p. 12-31).

• Susan L. Schwartz, Rasa, performing the Divine in India, New York, 2004, (p. 1-20)

• Rustom Bharucha, Rehearsals of a Revolution, the Political Theatre of Bengal, (Calcutta, Seagull 1983)

• Sumanta Banerjee, The Parlour and the Streets: Elite and Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century Calcutta. (Calcutta, Seagull 1998)

• Philip Zarrilli, Bruce McConachie, Gary Jay Williams, Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei, Theatre Histories, An Introduction, Routledge,2006