(Last Updated on : 31-07-2013)
Traditional Theatre of North India lays bare the theatrical scenario of the state. The traditional theatre form, Nautanki, is generally associated with Uttar Pradesh
. The most well known centres of this traditional theatre form are Kanpur
and Hathras. The meters incorporated in the verses are Doha, Chhappai, Chaubola and Behar-e-tabeel. Previously only men acted in Nautanki
but nowadays, even women have started taking part in the performances. Gulab Bai
of Kanpur is one among those who is remembered with reverence. She gave a new dimension to this old theatre form. The theatrical form Raslila
is based exclusively on Lord Krishna
legends. In this theatre form the dialogues in prose are combined brilliantly with songs and scenes from Krishna's life. Bhavai
is the traditional theatre form of Gujarat
. The chief centres of this form are Kutch and Kathiawar. The musical instruments used in Bhavai are bhungal, pakhaawaj, rabaab, tabla
, manjeera, etc. In Bhavai, there is an unusual fusion of devotional and romantic sentiments.
Religious folk theatre of north India mainly comprised of Ramlila
narratives. The Nautanki
groups of Uttar Pradesh
and some of the other groups composed of English speaking Indians and foreigners, tried their best to continue the exclusive practices of the former rulers, providing entertainment both on and off the stage for whoever felt he belonged; their productions were social events more than anything else. The average Indian, whoever he may be, was left out.
Only with the emergence and the vision and energy of directors like Habib Tanvir and Ebrahim Alkazi, and the foundation, of the National School of Drama, in 1959 (whose director Alkazi became in 1962), did a process of experimentation and professionalization start which has since changed the Indian theatrical scene altogether and is still going on. In this process, directors, actors and stage technicians as well as their audiences tried, among other things, to make themselves familiar with non-Indian theatrical traditions and practices.
Some of the most important Indian plays written and produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s were influence by, if not modelled after, Western illusionist drama. Again, it was for directors like Alkazi and Tanvir to show a way, if not the way out of this dilemma: it led out into the Indian countryside. While the urban theatre seemed to be passing through a phase of stagnation, its rural counterpart (until recently looked down upon by most of the city dwellers) was going strong as usual, as would appear natural in a country about four fifths of whose population live outside the cities.