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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Oct 18, 2018
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CULP 293 - Political Theatre in India
This course aims to provide an overview of theatre practice as political intervention across India in the 20th century, with a view to understanding the role of politics in shaping both form and content in performance practice as well as the effect of theatre as means of political engagement in the present. The theoretical objective is to locate this practice within the dialectic of the colonial and neocolonial that frames the emergence of cultural resistance in the ‘post’colony. Hence the course is predicated on a theory of ‘political theatre’ crafted as  a shared history of  resistance to what Ngugi wa thiong’o has called the colonization of the mind, as well as part of the struggle of the economically oppressed to wrest control over the production of culture  in the ‘post’colony. We will thus establish a comparative framework to understand the practice of political theatre in contemporary India.
 The documented history of ‘political theatre’ in India goes back to the Dramatic Performances Act passed against the ‘nationalist’ anti-colonial stage in 1876, preventing the performance of plays, and the banning of plays critical of the colonial government’s policies . Beginning with Ngugi’s conceptualisation of theatre as a tool of colonization we will position ‘national theatre’ as a form of anti-colonial resistance in the Anglophone world. Our attempt will be to understand how the idea of the ‘political’ underlies performance and dramatic texts, locating them in the time and place of their production and reception. The issues and themes deemed political and the forms used to create awareness and induce mass participation in action for change, together form the ‘political’ as conceptualized in this course. Hence, the professed relation to established political parties or ideologies as well as the shape and form of theatre as communicative and art form will underlie the readings of performances and texts used in this course. The diverse and rich traditions of local forms and the influences of theatre practice worldwide have interacted in ‘post’colonial India to produce performative platforms like Third Theatre and People’s Theatre, unique to the Indian experience.  The course charts the relevance of such performance forms as strategies of political engagement and means of resistance and change in a ‘developing’ ‘post’colonial society. 
In this course, our aims are to understand
1.	‘Politics’ as a shaping influence on the form and content of performance 
2.	The ‘post’colony as the location of performance  engaging with cultural imperialism
3.	The relation between performance and life practice in a neocolonial/’post’colonial space  

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture, Seminar

Culture & Politics Department

Course Attributes:
Mean Grade is Calculated

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