This was evident very early in the nineteenth century. The theatres of 1819s, on Fridays evenings, were crowded and the there was lot of enthusiasm. This of course, offered good taste of the Indian community in general, in showing such decided approbation of the choice that had been made for their entertainment. The audience was the most respectable and the most numerous that had been for some time collected, and we have seldom witnessed a more marked attention to - a more deep interest in - the business of the stage than was to be observed from all the quarters of the house.
The "decided approbation" from the Indian community in the theatre offered of the good taste of the Indian community generally, is also proof of not only the beginning of a mimetic digestion of English cultural norms, at least by the rich native, but also a proposition of race difference at the same time - that the English were separate, superior and, thus, worthy of emulation. The resentment of hurt-pride, on the one side and the feeling of superiority, moral as well as individual on the other, formed new barriers to social comprehension and cultural exchange.
The growth of a separate English society in India linked in with this process. The loss of cultural understanding was real but perhaps inevitable. But that did not preclude the possibility of cultural encounters between colonizer and colonized that would lead eventually to hybrid cultural formations of their own, mimetically playing out the power dynamics of colonial rule, domination and desire. The first encounter between the British and the Bengalis of Kolkata happened in the late eighteenth century, however little its present effect. The concept of the Western-style proscenium stage made its incursion into Bengali culture, as an imitation of the colonial English theatres in India via Kolkata and Bengali theatre, in spurts and bursts, from the end of the eighteenth century through the first half of the nineteenth.
The first such effort, to produce a Western-style play in Bengali was made in 1795, not by a Bengali, not even by an Englishman, but by a Russian by the name of Gerasim Stepanovich Lebedeff (1749-1817). Amid quite a busy colonial theatrical scene in which British thespians, both amateurs and professionals, largely looked to entertain the British and European community, Lebedeff's was a lone effort to perform a play in Bengali language. A musician by vocation, Lebedeff, after a two-year spell in Madras, arrived in Kolkata in 1787, where he was to spend the next 10 years of his life. Within a few months after his arrival, Lebedeff performed his first concert for the music aficionados of Kolkata. The 3 January 1788 issue of the Calcutta Gazette records this performance in an enthusiastic appraisal of Lebedeff's skill with the violin and the cello. It seems Lebedeff began to study Sanskrit literature and possibly Bengali while pursuing his musical talent.
In 1795, Lebedeff decided to give vent to another side of his artistic ambition - theatre. He rented a house and soon began the work of converting it into a theatre. The "Bengally Theatre" came into being at "25 Doomtullah Lane" in Central Kolkata. Lebedeff had built it almost single-handedly; he was its sole architect, builder, carpenter and labourer. By this time, Lebedeff must also have finished translating the two English plays he chose to perform for his theatre - M. Joddrell's The Disguise and a version of Moliere's Love is the Best Doctor. The plays, adapted into a pastiche of Bengali and Hindustani dialects, were supplemented by songs in both languages sung to the accompaniment of an orchestra made up of Indian and European instruments.