History: 3 Weeks

Introduction to Theatre in India

Historical Survey

Three-Week Syllabus


This three-week survey of the history of theatre in India adresses three principal periods: the classical Sanskrit era, devotional theatre of the early modern period, and colonial and post-colonial political theatre.  The survey is intended to provide only an introductory examination of these periods and their theatre forms.  The appended bibliography provides extended avenues by which educators and students can pursue particular, related topics to further extents.  Also appended is a list of terms, titles, and proper names that are of most importance to the periods addressed here.

For convenience, this three-week syllabus gives each of its three concentrations its own week, presuming a week of between three and five class hours.  This neat division is more arbitrary than necessary, but provides an even distribution of time across three periods, each of which are very rich in history and theatrical material on their own.  This distribution also ascribes equal time to the literary heritage of modern theatre in India, the religious theatre that is ubiquitous throughout the subcontinent, and the political theatre that has proven essential to India’s political and social change.  Hopefully, the material of the online textbook, as a whole, will help individuals shrink and expand this suggested distribution to suit their own circumstances.

WEEK ONE: Classical Sanskrit Drama

Topic: Performance Theory

The Natyashastra

Topic: Dramatic Literature

WEEK TWO: Devotional Theatre

Topic: Kutiyattam

Topic: Râs Lila

Topic: Ram Lila

WEEK THREE: Colonial and Postcolonial Theatre

Topic: Shakespeare in India

Topic: Colonial Theatre in the 19th Century

Topic: Political Theatre in the 20th Century

  • The Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA)