Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 9 (Oct-Dec 1984) p. 35.


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Acts of Change :

Performers & Audiences

Rati Bartholomew

Rustom Bharucha, Rehearsals of Revolution: The Political Theatre in Bengal^ Seagull, Calcutta, 1983, 254 pp., Rs. 100

The more theatre I saw in Calcutta, the more I realised how inadequate it was to think of the Bengali theatre without a political perspective.... The poverty and destitution of the masses demand a stringently political theatre—a theatre that confronts the basic problems of the people and exposes the socio-economic injustices that are responsible for these problems. (xii+xii)

HE latter half of the nineteenth century in Europe sees the beginning &

T concern with political theatre which gains ground and legitimisation in the twentieth century. I do not use the word legitimisation in a pejoia tive sense. Nor do I assert the fact that some kind of theatre—as a power ful instrument of expressing the peoples' aspirations has not existed through time, nor that occasional theoretical assertions on them have not been made.1 But as an alternate mode to mainstream forces, a consciousness that reality can be 'mediated in several different ways2—political theatre is very much a twentieth century concern.

Though a very minor playwright, Remain Rolland's 'direct contribution to the origin of the Indian People's Theatre Association^ as Sudhi Pradhan asserts, makes him an important figure. In 1903, Rolland wrote "Art cannot draw apart from the aspirations of the epoch. The People's theatre must share the people's struggles, their worries, their hopes, their battles."4

Consider the echoes in the writings of significant theatre practitioners in Germany between the wars. In 1929, Erwin Piscator says: "For us man portrayed on stage is significant as a social function... a time in which ... the realignment of social relationships is the order of the day cannot fail to see mankind in terms of society and the social problems of the times, i.e., as a political being."5

Brecht's plays and theoretical writings on theatre, cannot be isolated from his ideological framework:

Journal of Arts and ideas 35


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