Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Contemporary Indian Theatre: An Overview

Sova Sen in Nabanna, 1944

Sova Sen in Nabanna, 1944


The Indian Communist Party had been founded between the war years, in 1922, and along with it came the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), which was its cultural wing. IPTA’s work took hold in the 1940s. The organization had branches all over the country, but the ones in Bengal and Bombay particularly had several talented people in their ranks, all from the middle class with dreams of a classless society. They came up with a kind of theatre that was entirely portable and had a political agenda that was obviously at the same time both anti-colonial as well as anti-fascist. With the birth of the IPTA movement, it became increasingly evident that the time had come to challenge the convention of the commercial (and politically dispassionate and non-ideological) Indian proscenium theatre that had been established from the end of the 19th century to over a period of approximately 70 years. However, IPTA’s challenge was not so much a formal redefinition in terms of theatrical form or formation of a recognizable national identity as such. Rather, it was turning Indian theatre, even within the formal containment of proscenium-style theatre, into an implement of social and political change that would be more concerned about reaching the masses.