Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Theatre and Performance


Jean Graham-Jones

Committee Members

Peter Eckersall

David Savran

Bishnupriya Dutt

Subject Categories

Community-Based Research | Cultural History | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Regional Sociology | Social History | Sociology of Culture | Theatre History | Theory and Criticism


Indian theatre, indigenous/ folk/ regional performances of India, coloniality and theatre, globalization and theatre, theatre and the state, urban and rural theatres


Indigenous Performances in Contemporary Indian Urban Public Theatres: Coloniality, Globalization, and the State examines the aesthetic and political dimensions of contemporary public theatres in the major Indian cities of Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi, with a special focus on the utilization of India’s indigenous precolonial (or extra-colonial) classical, regional, and folk performance forms, elements, and repertoires in such urban practice. Through dramaturgical, ethnographic, and archival analyses, this dissertation studies significant contemporary productions from representative urban Indian theatre groups, including Nandikar, Rangakarmee, and Padatik in Kolkata; the Indian People’s Theatre Association, Mumbai, Ekjute, and Rangshila in Mumbai; and Circle Theatre Company and the Akshara Theatre repertory in Delhi. It also explores the employment of India’s indigenous precolonial performance heritage in the curriculum and the creative activities of the foremost theatre training institution in the country: the National School of Drama (N.S.D.). Through such critical observations, this dissertation considers three key factors: the rationale for utilizing India’s indigenous precolonial performance forms, elements, and repertoires in contemporary urban public theatrical productions; the aesthetic and political dimensions of the hybrid theatrical experiences such utilizations result in; and the way such dimensions are imbricated in the larger forces of a colonial legacy, state cultural policy and apparatuses, and the neoliberal globalized economy of theatre-making and theatre-viewing. Thus, a multi-city lens of investigation proposes a theoretical and methodological model that explains the contingent role of India’s indigenous precolonial performance forms, elements, and repertoires in contemporary urban public theatres in the context of the differing cultural, political, and economic stakes of theatre practices prevalent in the country’s principal metropolises.

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