Playwright at the Centre
- Author: Shanta Gokhale
- Publisher: Seagull Books
- ISBN: 9788170461579
The Marathi theatre has been vigorously alive now for over one hundred and fifty years in a continuously vital way. It is one of the most active and prominent regional theatre traditions in this country. This pathbreaking study takes a closer look at two streams of secular, urban theatre—the touring professional theatre centred in Mumbai, whose audience is largely the educated middle-class of Maharashtra’s small towns and cities; and the ‘other’ or ‘parallel’ theatre which came into being in the early fifties—with Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur as its centres—in rejection of the mainstream theatre which had become irrelevant to the post-Independence generation of college-educated youth.
This is the first such history of Marathi drama to be attempted in English. Positing the centrality of the playwright to Marathi theatre, this volume takes a closer look at milestones and breakthroughs, at significant plays and the trends they spawned. Particularly valuable are the extensive extracts, allowing the reader a rare glimpse of scripts which are otherwise impossible to access.
The introduction is a rapid journey through one hundred years of theatre from 1843 to 1943, with halts along the way to look more closely at a play, a breakthrough, or a sign of audience taste that might have had a bearing on the direction in which theatre moved. Section one picks out for close examination the important works of the most significant playwrights of the ‘golden age’ of contemporary Marathi theatre, during which the parallel theatre movement was born, burgeoned and went to seed, and the mainstream theatre grew to full maturity. The second section comprises an overview of theatre activity from 1985 to the present day, including verbatim interviews with contemporary playwrights. Additional material includes a section of long extracts from contemporary plays, otherwise unavailable in print, interviews with directors who are closely involved with the playwrights of today, and a section of rare archival photographs.