Professor Reid Davis
2 December 2013
Indian Theatre’s Value Transformation
Indian Theatre roots back for over thousands of years, and has become a culture spectacle that many spectators admire. Through dance, music, and acting, Indian Theatre accomplishes to create a culturally enriched art. Incorporating all three performing arts is imperative since they all root back to ritual and honoring Hinduism. The many traditions and traditional performance can be seen within every detail Indian Theatre tries to accomplish. However, though Indian Theatre is very traditional, Indian theatre’s true roots have been lost due to time, financial benefits, and lack of importance within its earliest society.
Indian theatre is centered around the religion of Hinduism. The whole purpose of Hinduism Is to achieve, “Brahman,” which is the ultimate soul of the world. It is described as “eternal, infinite, and indescribable” (Wilson, Goldfarb 87). The art focuses on ensemble work and performing together to achieve a cultural performance. Indian Theatre focuses not just on theatre itself, but in dance and music as well; it stems from “Natayasastra.” Natayasastra is the book that embodies music, theatre, and dance is said to be derived from Sage Bharata. It was written between 200 BCE and 200 CE during the classical Indian Theatre. Unlike a lot of societies, Indian Theatre does include men and women even though men are quite dominant. There is a “subtradhara,” which is the chief actor who manages the other actors. However, though there is that role, a lot of Indian Theatre focuses on their community, and it’s dedication to achieve Brahman.
The purpose is of Indian Theatre is centered on achieving Hinduism’s goal of Brahman. A term commonly used within the theatre, is “rasa,” which means flavor. This flavor is used as a tool to enrich the audience’s experience of the story; it used to empower enlightenment. The whole point of the rasa is to have the audience fully engaged to the art, and have them surrender to it.
Indian theatre traces thousands of years back, and has transformed into several genres. The original form of Indian Theatre is Sanskrit Theatre, which was constructed after the classical Greek and Roman Theatre. However, during the medieval rise of theatre in Europe, Sanskrit Theatre had its decline and lost its importance. Therefore, before it was able to prosper, it wasn’t even able to grow and was immediately shut down. When discussing about Sanskrit Theatre, Farley P. Richmond, Darius L. Swann, and Phillip B. Zarilli mentioned said, “On the eve of the reemergence of drama in medieval Europe, the Sanskrit drama experienced a sharp decline in activity and importance, and, although plays are still occasionally being written in Sanskrit even today, the classical age has long since ended” (Richmond, Swann, Zarilli 12). This goes to show, that society controls the wealth of the arts. Meaning, economically, during the start of Sanskrit theatre, the value of the art was not very valuable, and therefore was not invested in. Though some of Indian Theatre written is in Sanskrit, it does not follow along the same roots of the origin. This ties in to modern Indian Theatre as well because finances transform how theatre is being performed.
Upon reading a speech made by Anmol Vellani that was presented at the Japan Foundation Asian Center in 2003, he stressed on how Indian theatre is influenced for the market. Anmol Vellani is the founder and director for India Foundations for the Arts, and writes and gives seminars on classical Indian theatre and it’s culture. India Foundations for the Arts is an independent and nationwide organization that enriches and cultivates Indian Theatre. Corporations and sponsors caters to theatre that will make money. Using it as a brand to market it into tours, spectacle, and moneymaking performances. Doesn’t cater to tradition, but wants to make profit. Often, sponsor will...
Cited: "About IFA." India Foundation for the Arts. India Foundation for the Arts, 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.
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Richmond, Farley P., Darius L. Swann, and Phillip B. Zarrilli. Indian Theatre: Traditions of Performance. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1990. Print.
Tarlekar, Ganesh Hari. Studies in the Nāṭyaśāstra: With Special Reference to the Sanskrit Drama in Performance. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1991. Print.
Vellani, Anmol. "India in Performance." Speech. Asia in Transition: Representation and Identity. Japan. 2003. Http://wiki.indianfolklore.org/images/archive/0/0e/20080529084035!India_in_performance.pdf. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.
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