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Volume 70 Number 3, March 2019

Volume 70 Number 3

Staging Change: Theatre in India
Edited by: Anuradha Kapur

Introduction
Anuradha Kapur

Genealogy and Overwriting
Anuradha Kapur

Intersections of Practice and Pedagogy: The National School of Drama
Kirti Jain

Personal Reflections on Ebrahim Alkazi and B.V. Karanth
Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry

India’s Postdramatic: Conversations with Theatre-Makers and a Critique
Ashis Sengupta

Politics of Location: A View of Theatrical Contemporaneity in India
Gargi Bharadwaj

Hybridity and Regional Visions in Contemporary Theatre in Kerala
Abhilash Pillai

Contemporary Theatre Practice in Manipur: A Reckoning
Trina Nileena Banerjee

Grandeur and Simplicity: The Spectrum of Performance Practices in Assam
Trina Nileena Banerjee

Polyrhythmia and Circus-Theatre in the Contemporary: Notes on Talatum
Ameet Parameswaran

Inside front cover and pages 1-9: Thematic ad-portfolio on contemporary Indian theatre
Mrinalini Vasudevan

Thematic Ad-Portfolio: Curating the Contemporary in Theatre
Vasudevan, Mrinalini
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, p. 1–9

The write-up and accompanying portfolio of images discusses and highlights a range of practices from different regions that are part of contemporary Indian theatre. This includes realist drama, post-modernist narratives, commercial theatre, theatre of the roots, folk theatre and dance-drama. Featured here are Anuradha Kapur’s Virasat and Umrao, Madhu Margi Chakyar’s Koodiyattam, Surabhi Theatre, Under the Sal Tree festival, Muzamil Hayat Bhawani’s The Black Calendar and The Country Without A Post Office, Manal Magudi Theatre Land and the Kattaikuttu Gurukulam.

Editorial Note
Gupta, Latika
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, p. 12

The Associate Editor introduces Marg’s first dedicated issue on modern and contemporary theatre. She situates the current magazine in context, mentioning the earlier critical writings on theatre it follows up on and the new topics and debates it will address.

Introduction
Kapur, Anuradha
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 14–15

In this piece, the guest editor lays out the structure of the magazine and categorizes the essays under the intersecting circles of “histories”, “institutions” and “practices”. She also broadly explains how each author will approach the subjects of theatre pedagogy, performance space, material and form.

Genealogy and Overwriting
Kapur, Anuradha
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 16–23

In this essay, the writer discusses some of the fundamental concepts associated with theatre—space, material, conventions of performance, forms and spectatorship. Following Michel Foucault’s idea of genealogy as palimpsest, she draws up a non-linear history of theatre in India to highlight how various traditions and productions have worked around these key notions.

Intersections of Practice and Pedagogy: The National School of Drama
Jain, Kirti
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 24–35

This essay looks at the history of India’s premier theatre training institute through the prism of its changing curriculum and the important personalities that shaped it from the 1950s to the 2000s. The journey includes NSD’s founding through the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s recommendations, its growth and consolidation under Ebrahim Alkazi and B.V. Karanth and the more recent innovations brought about by a committee headed by Anuradha Kapur, Vijaya Mehta and Anamika Haksar. There is an understanding of NSD’s successes and failures in serving as a model for similar institutions and its role in developing theatre in the country.

Personal Reflections on Ebrahim Alkazi and B.V. Karanth
Chowdhry, Neelam Mansingh
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 36–45

A student of the National School of Drama, Delhi, the author shares her experiences of learning and working with its two great stalwarts. Each of them had very different approaches to theatre-making and training: Alkazi brought an important level of formalization while Karanth allowed for the entry of traditional influences and more democracy, both at the level of theatre language and the representation of students. The two played significant roles in laying and strengthening the foundations of their institution and made a self-sustaining system out of modernism.

India’s Postdramatic: Conversations with Theatre-Makers and a Critique
Sengupta, Ashis
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 46–63

This conversation piece unpacks the term “postdramatic theatre” that was coined by Hans-Thies Lehmann to describe radical avant-garde movements in European theatre in the 1960s and ’70s. Used in the Indian context, the term pertains to a set of hybrid practices that have emerged in Indian theatre in the last two decades—more presence than representation, the absence of a unified plot or characters, real-time action, and a democratization of performance language where materials and media are given as much if not more importance than text and acting. These are reflected in the works of the following theatre practitioners interviewed here—Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry, Anuradha Kapur, Anamika Haksar, Maya Krishna Rao, Zuleikha Chaudhari, Amitesh Grover, Abhilash Pillai and Deepan Sivaraman.

Politics of Location: A View of Theatrical Contemporaneity in India
Bharadwaj, Gargi
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 64–75

This essay examines select contemporary theatre practices that ensue productively from and exist in a complex relationship with state policies. They function outside, even despite, established paradigms of theatre production in terms of spaces of performance, modes of spectatorship and what constitutes “theatre” and “work” in the theatre. The writer explores the relationship these practices generate between audiences and performers. She argues that each of these case studies employs, as a signifying practice, a “politics of location” that moves away from hegemonic modes of cultural production, focusing rather on local knowledge and favouring situatedness of knowledge production in theatre.

Hybridity and Regional Visions in Contemporary Theatre in Kerala
Pillai, Abhilash
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 76–81

This essay looks at emerging trends in theatre from Kerala through the works of M.G. Jyotish, Deepan Sivaraman and Sankar Venkateswaran. While Jyotish brings multimedia and technology into his conceptualization of drama, Deepan is more interested in material object-based reality and Sankar retains focus on the actor. Together these three practitioners use their works to unsettle the boundaries between Indian/un-Indian, classical/popular, vernacular/cosmopolitan that have dominated definitions of practice in the region. They also see their works as part of an international quest towards innovative languages of theatre-making.

Contemporary Theatre Practice in Manipur
Banerjee, Trina Nileena
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 82–91

Theatre in Manipur is shaped by a vortex of linguistic encounters, cultural influences/resistances and a heterogeneous mixture of aesthetic tendencies. The essay discusses this entire range of practices—the Lai Haraoba based on religious and ritual performances, the Shumang Leela and Phampak Leela which represent commercial theatre for rural and urban audiences, the political theatre that emerged under Ratan Thiyam and Heisnam Kanhailal and the continuing presence of politics in the contemporary works of a younger generation of directors like Surjit Nongmeikapam, Heisnam Tomba, S. Thaninleima and Rojio Usham.

Grandeur and Simplicity: The Spectrum of Performance Practices in Assam
Banerjee, Trina Nileena
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 92–97

This photo essay focusses on the mobile theatres of Assam, looking at the inventive means these touring groups use to stage grand productions based on historic, mythic and popular themes for rural and urban audiences. The images provide glimpses of the complex set design, light and sound arrangements, backstage preparations and the spectacles recreated on stage with use of projections. As a contrast to this practice, the writer points to minimalist theatre traditions that continue in Assam such as the Under The Sal Tree festival started by Sukracharjya Rabha.

Polyrhythmia and Circus-Theatre in the Contemporary: Notes on Talatum
Vol. 70 No. 3, March 2019, pp. 98–107
Parameswaran, Ameet

The essay analyses the multilingual performance, Talatum—The Circus, a circus-theatre adaptation of The Tempest directed by Abhilash Pillai. Premiering at the first Serendipity Arts Festival in 2016 and staged in a big tent, the production served as a unique experiment that brought together circus artists and theatre-school-trained actors. Focusing on the theatricality that emerged from a dynamic relation between varied forms and mediums, the performance offered an experience of polyrhythmia that revealed the workings of power both within the play and in the larger socio-cultural context.