By A. Sengupta

Whereas remapping the sector by means of interpreting enduring old and cultural connections, this examine discusses a number of traditions and practices of theatre and function in 5 South Asian nations inside their particular political and socio-cultural contexts.

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Extra resources for Mapping South Asia through Contemporary Theatre: Essays on the Theatres of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Sample text

86 Bangladesh The performance culture of Bangladesh shares its history with that of Bengal in pre-partition India, which in fact covers a wide range of practices from the popular medieval tradition of recitation by the Kathaks of the Bengali Ramayana verses to Chaitanya’s kirtanas and kathas to timeless religious festivals like the Gajonotsava to centuries-old rural/ folk performance subgenres such as jatras, palas, alkaps, and gambhiras. The theatre and performance of post-partition but pre-liberation Bangladesh (1947–1971), then East Pakistan, suffered for a while but Ashis Sengupta 31 gained fresh momentum with the Language Movement of 1952.

The bhands’ performative strategies are also at times imitated in real-life politics. English-language theatre’s intervention in Pakistan’s cultural politics is interesting on its own terms. The recent spate of English musicals, either direct borrowings from the West or adaptations with an abundance of Western-style music and dance, may be considered as a form of challenge to the ‘Talibanization’ of culture. Commercial theatre also poses a threat to repressive culture; but while it is often dismissed as a ‘lower’ form of performance predominated by ribaldry, English musicals are perceived as better aesthetic productions meant for an audience with an arguably ‘refined’ taste.

Although the architect of the new nation-state, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, sought to keep religion and state apart, Pakistan declared itself an Islamic Republic in 1956 and tended with time to turn into an Islamic State with an authoritarian government guided by a rigid if not repressive ‘Islamic’ ideology. A cultural identity centered on such ideology71 was also what the nation initially felt it needed for self-definition. As a result, most of what were considered as ‘Hindu’ elements of Indian art and performance came to be rejected in the domain of culture.

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