English Drama on the Bombay Stage in the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century

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This book navigates the journey of ‘theatre’ starting with the early ‘amateur theatre’ at Bombay Green in the late eighteenth century. Today we know this area as the Horniman Circle in Mumbai. She traces the origins of professional theatre in colonial Bombay to the amateur exercises of the English inhabitants, the Parsi businessmen and the English educated local inhabitants of the city. Mehta’s work is significant not only for the study of ‘theatre’ but also to understand colonial sociability and the role of the English language in this regard. Sharmistha Saha, the editor of the book has given it its present shape. She has primarily updated citations, incorporated information on current research as also images of the erstwhile theatre districts wherever applicable.


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Theatre in Mumbai or colonial Bombay emerged at a time when the city was still finding its own contours and taking shape. ‘Theatre’ in the sense of the art form and the word that we know today, which has been comfortably incorporated in almost all Indian languages also took shape during this early period. Kumudini Arvind Mehta’s doctoral dissertation, submitted to the University of Bombay, now known as University of Mumbai is being published in the form of this book. It navigates the journey of ‘theatre’ starting with the early ‘amateur theatre’ at Bombay Green in the late eighteenth century. Today we know this area as the Horniman Circle in Mumbai. She traces the origins of professional theatre in colonial Bombay to the amateur exercises of the English inhabitants, the Parsi businessmen and the English educated local inhabitants of the city. She painstakingly goes through newspaper articles and announcements, old journals, property papers, old maps etc., to weave the narrative of ‘theatre’ that shapes the legacy of the art form that was either inherited or rejected by later artists. Mehta’s work is significant not only for the study of ‘theatre’ but also to understand colonial sociability and the role of the English language in this regard. Sharmistha Saha, the editor of the book has given it its present shape. She has primarily updated citations, incorporated information on current research as also images of the erstwhile theatre districts wherever applicable.

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