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Theatre of Roots

Redirecting the Modern Indian Stage

After Independence, in 1947, in their efforts to create an ‘Indian’ theatre that was different from the Westernized, colonial theatre, Indian theatre practitioners began returning to their ‘roots’ in classical dance, religious ritual, martial arts, popular entertainment and aesthetic theory. The Theatre of Roots - as this movement was known - was the first conscious effort at creating a body of work for urban audiences combining modern European theatre with traditional Indian performance while maintaining its distinction from both.

By addressing the politics of aesthetics and by challenging the visual practices, performer/spectator relationships, dramaturgical structures and aesthetic goals of colonial performance, the movement offered a strategy for reassessing colonial ideology and culture and for articulating and defining a newly emerging ‘India’. Theatre of Roots presents an in-depth analysis of this movement: its innovations, theories, goals, accomplishments, problems and legacies.

432 pages | 24 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2008


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Table of Contents



Introduction: Enacting an Alternative Modernity

Chapter 1: Political and Theatrical Origins of the Roots Movement in the Nineteenth Century

Chapter 2: Towards Thanathunatakavedi

The Direction of Kavalam Narayana Panikkar

Chapter 3: A New Hybrid Theatre

Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana

Chapter 4: From Movement to Style to ‘National Theatre’ at the Sangeet Natak Akademi

Chapter 5: Regional/National/International

The Politics of Context in the Work of Ratan Thiyam

Chapter 6: Legacies of the Roots Movement

Appendix 1

1956 Seminar on Indian Drama and Theater

Appendix 2

1977 National Drama Festival

Organized by the Kerala Sangeetha Natak Akademi

Appendix 3

Scheme for Assistance to Young Theatre Workers, 1984-91

Appendix 4

1989 Nehru Shatabdi Natya Samaroh, Delhi

Appendix 5

Seminars and Workshops on Theatre, Dance and Music Organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi

Appendix 6

National School of Drama’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav, 1999-2007

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