Nabamita (1537242), The Theatre and the Self

Bhatia, Nandi, ed. Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader. Delhi: OUP, 2009. 469-472. Print.

“Contemporary Indian Theatre and its Relevance”.

Dattani attempts to delineate how the world, both external and internal, of Man is being reflected through Indian theatre. In order to embark on the path of relatability, believability and synergy, theatre has to come out of the essence of life, experiences, and emotions, which are common to the process of existence. According to him, for theatre to transcend the mere act of “action”, the knowledge of the Indianness of our theatre must confluence with that of the self.

The author focusses on the extent of representation that Indian theatre has attempted to embark on, keeping in mind the demands and the expectations of the audience. The theatre can reflect the ways of the Indian society, the ways of an individual self and also the gap between these two. The context of the Indian way of living and thinking, being exposed to the nuances of life, is and should be portrayed by the Indian theatre as realistically as possible.

Dattani believes in the use of theatrical devices, like lights, sound and properties (props), in order to maximise the effects of the actions and incidents being staged. He thinks that theatre should grow as an art as its dynamic nature is what will address the sensibilities of the diverse audience for years to come.

Dattani perceives three ideological spaces: The traditional (tradition), the continual (continuity), and the radical (change), that purport to merge our identities with that of our theatre.

While explaining the traditional space, Dattani brings in the concept of “Natya” which refers to both Dance and Drama. In this space, the birth of the tradition and its roots are held on to firmly. The concept of “varnam” contains all the nuances of our performing arts forms. The continual space refers to the continuity of the roots of the tradition in forming our identities, in keeping with the present times. The importance of representing the various shades of the self, coming to terms with the workings of the society is taken into consideration. The radical space brings about the change in order to explore, invent and develop new forms and content. This is the space that ensures that the art form remains dynamic, in a state of flux whose ulterior purpose is to evoke reciprocity between the audience and the Indian theatre.





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