History: 1 Week

India’s theatrical history is not easily summarized or condensed.  However, the diverse field of material may extend from a few fundamental areas.


Sanskrit Drama: Natyashastra and Bhasa

Classical Sanskrit drama and the theory of theatrical art that coincides with it provides a foundation for all the literary drama of India that follows.  Bhasa provides early and easily accessible examples of Sanskrit drama.


Natyashastra, Book 6

Bhasa, Urubhangam

Devotional Theatre: Kudiyattam

Kudiyattam is the oldest living tradition of theatre in India.  It is also emblematic of the various types of devotional theatre on the subcontinent that are performed primarily for religious purposes.

Colonial Drama

In the colonial period of India, theatre partook of both Western forms and Indian forms.  Western-style melodramas not only inspired the popular Parsi theatre (which, in turn, gave rise to the Bollywood film industry), they came to serve the political objectives of Indians who challenged colonial authority.


Mitra, Nildurpan

Additional Bibliography