Indian Theatre Journal 1.1 - Sneak peak!

Intellect is delighted to share a selection of abstract articles from the forthcoming, inaugural issue of the Indian Theatre Journal:


Homeland as ‘Beloved’: Translating viraha for (post)colonial contexts

Authors: Cynthia Ling Lee


This article discusses how Pallabi Chakravorty’s Asunder and Cynthia Ling Lee’s fish hook tongue, two contemporary works by kathak-trained choreographers, intervene in the nationalist discourse surrounding classical Indian dance by translating the aesthetic concept of viraha for politicized (post)colonial contexts. The two works refuse to perform Indian nationalist representations of kathak that uphold respectable Hindu femininity imbued with the Orientalist weight of timeless, immutable ‘tradition’. Instead, Asunder and fish hook tongue depart from classical practice and Indian nationalist representations of kathak by replacing the traditional Beloved of kathak abhinaya with a new love object: the troubled, (post)colonial homeland. I draw on Svetlana Boym’s theorizations of nostalgia to argue that these two works, which are grounded in critical histories rather than timeless myth, reimagine viraha as critical reflective nostalgia, as the impossible longing of a diasporic subject for union with a broken homeland. Asunder addresses the Partition of India by evoking longing for an undivided India that interweaves Muslim and Hindu influences, while fish hook tongue re-territorializes and reconfigures viraha as the visceral longing to speak one’s mother tongue of Taiwanese against the silencing forces of colonization and assimilation.


Grotowski and the Indian tradition 

Authors: Maria Krzysztof Byrski 


The question of Grotowski’s Indian affiliations in his theatrical experiments is long discussed. In the article presented, an attempt is made to tackle this problem. What absorbs Grotowski into the Indian tradition is a question that remains still fascinating in many ways. My conclusion is that it was first of all Grotowski’s fascination with the Indian spirituality as personified by Ramana Maharishi of Arunachala that made him especially sensitive to what the Indian culture could offer and not so much his acquaintance with the Indian theatre tradition, which was rather fragmentary and occidental. While travelling in India, he was more interested in the religiously motivated performances of the Bauls of Bengal than in regular theatre, neither classical nor modern.


Rabindranath Tagore and the Bauls: Representation and performance of Bauls as sociopolitical actors

Authors: Sukanya Chakrabarti


This article reveals the relationship between Rabindranath Tagore and the Bauls against the backdrop of the politics of nationalism between the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century in Bengal. Tagore’s works – including novels (Gora and Ghare Baire), play, Phalguni and songs composed between 1900 and 1920 – are thoroughly influenced by the ideologies of Bauls, whose liminal identities (of being in the world and yet outside of it) play a significant part in the formation of his political, philosophical and spiritual identity. Tagore’s subsequent popularity amongst the middle-class bourgeois Bengalis, in turn, shapes the representation of Bauls more as political rather than merely spiritual, musical or cultural performers of Bengal. From a marginal and ‘shameful’ social positionality, Tagore’s portrayal of Bauls transforms them into political figures and agents of self-reflection, reform and covert resistance to hegemonic powers of control and domination through their world-view, performance and lifestyle.

Posted by Katy Dalli at 11:32 (0) comments
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