Seminar: "When Myths Become Reality: Towards Detexting Badal Sircar’s Third Theatre plays" by Dr. Manujendra Kundu
Badal Sircar, the doyen of Indian theatre, is celebrated for introducing a ‘new’ performance discourse in India. Some of his proscenium plays andthose of the Third Theatre influenced people across all disciplines both in India and abroad. Reading his plays severally and/or selectively is indeed an overwhelming experience, but there lies the mystery of deification. Of course a reader’s individual worldview is not to be overlooked. Certain ideas and beliefs, in the process, have acquired a mythic shape of monumental proportion. How is this myth/mystery to be resolved? The answer is probably hidden in the question: how do we read a text (plays/theatremovement/actions/decisions)? Perhaps, the challenging task of reading can be performed by means of ‘disentangling’ the text. Sircar talked about societal change through his theatre, but we also see a different reality in his theatre. Like his western counterparts, he also advocated egalitarianism, but in reality his comrades-in-arms faded into oblivion. There are many similar inconsistencies in his theatre. In this talk, we will engage on ‘disentangling’ those contradictions around which the myth of an ‘honest’ theatre for changing the social system was built.
Manujendra Kundu has been ICSSR postdoctoral fellow at the Department of History, University of Delhi. His work was on the engineering of a historical discourse vis-à-vis religious identity by the nineteenth-century Bengali media. He wrote So Near, Yet So Far: Badal Sircar’s Third Theatre (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016), and is editing a book on women performers in Bengali theatre, which has been provisionally accepted by the Oxford University Press. As a student of various literary traditions, including Bengali, Sanskrit, English, Comparative Literature, Performance Studies, and History, Manujendra is interested in the social history of performance traditions, intellectual history, historical evolution of media, Tagore studies. Besides, he has also worked as a journalist for two leading institutions in India for nearly 10 years.