DramaContemporary: India : Plays

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Erin B. Mee
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001 - Drama - 361 pages
India has one of the world's richest theater traditions. Written and performed in a number of India's myriad languages and dialects, its recent plays reflect the diversity of experiences, outlooks, and histories that both unite and divide the people of the subcontinent. In DramaContemporary: India, Erin Mee gathers six modern plays from across the country that demonstrate the vitality of Indian theater today. Included in this groundbreaking collection are:

The Fire and the Rain by Girish Karnad Aramba Chekkan by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar The Wooden Cart by Tripurari Sharma Rudali by Usha Ganguli Tara by Mahesh Dattani Routes and Escape Routes by Datta Bhagat

Written from different perspectives and in different styles, each of these plays addresses current issues facing modern India. Both The Fire and the Rain and Aramba Chekkan belong to the "theater of roots" movement. Rudali is linked to the women's theater movement, and The Wooden Cart, though not a street theater piece, comes out of that tradition. Routes and Escape Routes belongs to a category of writing known as Dalit Sahitya (literature of the oppressed). Tara, part of India's English-language theater movement, nonetheless challenges the Anglo-Indian literary tradition.

These plays have also been important in the development of contemporary Indian literature. Girish Karnad, author of The Fire and the Rain, is credited as one of the playwrights who helped create the contemporary theater in India. Rudali was adapted from a novel by Mahasweta Devi, one of the subcontinent's most influential writers. And Routes and Escape Routes is the first modern play written by an "untouchable" to reach a wide audience. As plays fromIndia are increasingly staged in the West, this timely volume will introduce readers to the country's rich and varied theatrical culture.

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