I’m honored that the Philly-based The Bridge PHL theatre company has invited me to give a lecture and workshop on Jatra theatre, one of my research areas as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar.
Jatra is a Bengali word meaning travel or journey. Jatra theatre, or jatra opera as it is often called in India, is a form of mobile, traveling folk theatre native to India’s northeastern state of West Bengal, dating back several centuries.
By the 19th century, jatra companies began to look away from the purely religious themes that had been their core function, and began to tackle historical subjects and social issues.
Jatra has functioned as a living newspaper, long before any of its playwrights and performers had heard of Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal hadn’t even been born yet). Long before Brecht, jatra companies worked in a tradition of intentionally nonrealistic acting and minimal use of props and set.
And there is so much more to tell…
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