Restaging Marathi Theatre

A new crop of playwrights and directors offers glimmers of a rejuvenation in Marathi theatre.

It is an often-heard refrain that Marathi theatre had its golden age in the 1960s and 1970s and is now a shadow of itself. If theatre lovers of an earlier vintage were asked for their opinion, they would say the golden age happened in the early 20th century when Bal Gandharva strode the sangeet natak stage.

Having said that, it must be admitted that the 1960s and 1970s were decades of extremely significant work not only in Marathi theatre but across the country – in Kannada, Bengali and Hindi theatre too. However, it was not as if suddenly a crop of brilliant playwrights and directors had come into being at the time. There were sociopolitical forces at work that provided the push to their work. It cannot be mere coincidence that Vijay Tendulkar’s path-breaking play Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe was written in 1963, a year before Bob Dylan’s album The Times They Are A-Changin’ was released; and produced in 1968, a few months after the student uprisings in France and the Prague Spring. In England John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger had already brought the kitchen sink into the genteel drawing rooms of British theatre.

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