However diverse our culture, our theatre draws from two basic premises, one between two to three thousand years old, Natya Sashtra. The other being 200 years old, the Western theatre form that emerged in the salons of the British colonials introducing proscenium theatre and giving urban theatre a voice. Our iconic Parsi Theatre then took it forward in a way that brought back our “Indianness” but within a similar format.
In the entries this year, I saw what might be called a seesaw. One end trying hard to keep the status quo with productions that stuck to time tested formulae with little or no innovation: regional language productions with the large dose of folk and classical music and dance forms; urban theatre, whose productions used the static box set and the traditional way of emoting on stage.
Then at the other end, both Indian vernacular and English language productions that experimented and mingled traditional and new forms with an honesty that resulted in seamless story telling on stage. These are the productions that will take us forward.
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