Culture of Indian Theatre
Going back 5000 years ago, the tradition of Indian Theatre got into existence. Natya Shastra was the book based on dramaturgy i.e. the holy book of theatre written by Bharat Muni. It is considered as one of the oldest surviving text on stagecraft in India. It covers every integral aspects and ethics of drama.
Reciting, Literature, Mime, Music, Dance, Movement, Painting, Sculpture & Architecture became integral elements of theatre. Also emphasis on narrative elements made our theatre necessarily theatrical right from the beginning. The culture and way of representation of art through theatre varies from place to place. This led into variation of many regional theatres – Sanskrit, Koothiyattam, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengali, Marathi & lot more.
The history of Indian theatre is the saga of changing tradition and an account of changing ritualism. Indian theatre is an effort of intensifying the social pattern in perhaps the most aesthetic way. Whether to reflect the very “unedited realities” of the society or to illustrate the divine edifying aspects of life, theatre in India definitely played a major role. The rich timeline of Indian theatre has therefore gone through a number of phases. These different phases were actually caused by the different rulers who invaded India time and time again.
The Classical period
The Classical period includes the writing and practice of theatre upto about 1000 A.D. Such practices were all based on rules & regulations handed by Natya Shastra. Literature in Sanskrit started with the Vedic era and the rich history of Indian theatre holds the fact that Sanskrit plays were the first recognized representation of the Indian theatre. Playwrights such as Bhasa, kalidasa, Shudraka, Vishakhadatta and Bhavabhuti contributed a lot through their dramatic pieces in Sanskrit during this era. Although indeed in a much crude manner the Sanskrit theatre did originate in India somewhat about 3500 years ago, yet its artistic glory never faded away with time.
The Traditional period
Traditional period theatre was being performed from around 1000 A.D to 1700 A.D. These Theatres gradually became quite a thriving personification and of course a refined embodiment of the realities of life through dance, music and poise. It involves practices based on oral traditions. It mainly implies vocals i.e. singing and recitation-based like Ramleela, Rasleela, Bhand Nautanki, etc. Although classical theatre was much more sophisticated in its form and nature as compared to traditional.
The Modern period
During the modern period, an outside force i.e. British rule for about 200 years brought a drastic change in the political set up in India. It was the beginning of the nineteenth century when music, timber, song, dance, dialogue and emotion all were for the first time incorporated in the Indian theatre to offer it a modern facet. Not only in the acting, pattern changes were observed even in the designing of the theatre hall during this time. This change made the writings and practices geared fully towards realistic and natural presentation. Now it is no more woven around big heroes and gods, but has become a picture of common man.
Later theatre in India has been a continuous activity and also became an incredible part of Indian culture which will mark its limit nowhere and will remain as one of the greatest form of art forever
Source : Wikipedia