Kannada Theatre History 1850-1950: A Sourcebook

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This source book on Kannada theatre history is a valuable contribution to the larger field of Indian Theatre Studies. Avoiding the shortcuts of an overview or a Wikipedia-like assemblage of information, it delves into the lives, histories, struggles, debates and anecdotes surrounding some of the most pioneering figures in the shaping of Kannada theatre between 1850-1950. The selection of primary sources, most of which are being made available in English for the first time, is nothing short of a revelation in the way it illuminates insights into the actual making and thinking of theatre practice. Here we have a model of how the construct of ‘Indian Theatre’ can be textured, inflected, individuated and problematized at regional, local and intracultural levels.  Rustom Bharucha

This book is a labour of love by scholars who not only love Kannada theatre, but want to pass on their enjoyment of it. Delving deep into folklore oral history, local history, gossip debate and discourse, the editors bring out the world of Kannada theatres in pluralistic terms. Scholarship and playfulness combine to create a powerful act of storytelling where the book itself mimics the career of Kannada theatre. As an anthology it becomes an initiation rite, an introduction to all the great figures, not as hagiography but as nuanced analysis. Big questions and little questions combine to create both a sense of combativeness and a wonderful feeling of homecoming. Like tricksters, they break the binaries of tradition and modernity, treating it almost like a bad play which needs new scripts and new performers. A wonderful anthology. A deeply desi book, with all the cosmopolitanism of world theatre. Shiv Visvanathan


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This source book on Kannada theatre history is a valuable contribution to the larger field of Indian Theatre Studies. Avoiding the shortcuts of an overview or a Wikipedia-like assemblage of information, it delves into the lives, histories, struggles, debates and anecdotes surrounding some of the most pioneering figures in the shaping of Kannada theatre between 1850-1950. The selection of primary sources, most of which are being made available in English for the first time, is nothing short of a revelation in the way it illuminates insights into the actual making and thinking of theatre practice. Here we have a model of how the construct of ‘Indian Theatre’ can be textured, inflected, individuated and problematized at regional, local and intracultural levels.  Rustom Bharucha

This book is a labour of love by scholars who not only love Kannada theatre, but want to pass on their enjoyment of it. Delving deep into folklore oral history, local history, gossip debate and discourse, the editors bring out the world of Kannada theatres in pluralistic terms. Scholarship and playfulness combine to create a powerful act of storytelling where the book itself mimics the career of Kannada theatre. As an anthology it becomes an initiation rite, an introduction to all the great figures, not as hagiography but as nuanced analysis. Big questions and little questions combine to create both a sense of combativeness and a wonderful feeling of homecoming. Like tricksters, they break the binaries of tradition and modernity, treating it almost like a bad play which needs new scripts and new performers. A wonderful anthology. A deeply desi book, with all the cosmopolitanism of world theatre. Shiv Visvanathan

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