Seminar: "Girish Karnad and Post-Independence Theatre: The Uncharted Spaces of Criticism"by Professor Aparna Dharwadker.
The numerous tributes to Girish Karnad that have appeared in various media since he passed away in Bengaluru on June 10, 2019, have touched more or less consistently on the outstanding features of his lifelong work—the multiplicity of his talents as a playwright, actor, and screenwriter; the brilliance of his dramaturgy; his unique contributions to culture as a commentator and administrator; the distinguished list of awards and recognitions; his courage as a public intellectual; and so on. However, key features of the monumental shift that Karnad and his generation effected in urban Indian drama, theatre, and performance have gone largely unnoticed in scholarship and criticism, in part because of the fragmentation of modern Indian theatre studies by language and region. This talk connects Karnad’s work in the theatre with some of the formal, structural, institutional, ideological, and material conditions that shaped his generation, but continue to appear among the “uncharted spaces of criticism.”
Aparna Dharwadker is Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches a wide range of courses in modern and contemporary theatre, South Asian diasporic fiction and film, and world literature. Her book, Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947, received the Joe A. Callaway Prize in 2006 as the best book on drama or theatre published in 2004-05. Dharwadker's essays and articles have appeared in numerous journals and collections, including PMLA, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Theatre Research International, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, and The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has received fellowships from the NEH, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the International Research Centre (Freie Universistät, Berlin), the Folger Library, and the Newberry Library, among others. Dharwadker’s collaborative translation of a modernist play by the Hindi playwright Mohan Rakesh, titled One Day in the Season of Rain, appeared in the Penguin Modern Classics series in 2015, and her edited collection, A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present, was published by Oxford University Press in November 2018. She has also contributed substantial introductions to Girish Karnad’s Collected Plays (3 vols., Oxford University Press, 2005-2017). Dharwadker’s current work includes two book-length projects: a study of modernist theatre in India titled Cosmo-Modernism and the Other Theatre, and a study of the constitutive features of Indian theatrical modernity, titled Ambivalent Modernity and the Processes of Modernization in Urban Indian Theatre.