Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora

Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora

Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora

Beyond Bollywood and Broadway: Plays from the South Asian Diaspora

Synopsis

This collection of 11 plays, from North America, the U.K., and South Africa--many published here for the first time--delves into the vibrant, cosmopolitan theatre of the South Asian diaspora. These original and provocative works explore the experience of diaspora by drawing on cultural references as diverse as classical Indian texts, adaptations of Shakespeare and Homer, current events, and world music, film, and dance. Neilesh Bose provides historical background on South Asian migration and performance traditions in each region, along with critical introductions and biographical background on each playwright.

Includes works by Anuvab Pal, Aasif Mandvi, Shishir Kurup, Rahul Varma, Rana Bose, Rukhsana Ahmad, Jatinder Verma, Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith, Ronnie Govender, Kessie Govender, and Kriben Pillay.

Excerpt

From Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake to Zadie Smith’s White Teeth to the writings of well-known authors such as Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, and Monica Ali, works by South Asian diasporic (South Asians living outside of South Asia) writers figure prominently in contemporary cultural criticism. Popular films such as Monsoon Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham, and Bride and Prejudice also occupy a familiar place. Still, many people in the United States familiar with the works of these writers would be hard pressed to name a single play by a contemporary playwright of South Asian descent. Theatre rarely enters into discussions of South Asian cultures in the diaspora, although it poses provocative questions. When diaspora is represented onstage, through dramatic literature and performance, what happens? Do we find different questions and different kinds of resolutions? What does the power of performance, that “indescribably mystery,” as South African Kriben Pillay puts it, do to our understanding diaspora?

More questions arise when we set out to determine what makes a play a part of “South Asian diasporic theatre.” Does any play by or about South Asian immigrants qualify? Many plays written by people of South Asian background have nothing to do with the South Asian diaspora. What about the myriad plays written by non-South Asians that have featured South Asian diasporic roles and/or actors in productions? What about all the South Asian traditions of dance, dance-drama, and folk performance being produced around the world? Finally, what about all the South Asian plays that have been performed in diasporic locations, such as the work of Mahesh Dattani, Girish Karnad, or Vijay Tendulkar? This book documents and preserves plays written by and about South Asian diasporic people in order to focus on the creation of a South . . .

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