Tamasha

Definition

Theater

  • A popular type of folk theater in India's west-central stateof Maharashtra. Its origin is uncertain, although it is thought tohave been introduced to the region in the early 18th century by Mogularmies. The name Tamasha is Persian for 'fun', 'entertainment', or 'commotion'. The plays adapt themes from history or mythology to satirize politicians, businessmen, priests, and others.

    There are various kinds of companies. The dholki-barrisfolk-drama troupes have a leading actor, clown, six actor-singers,one or more female dancer-singers, and several musicians. The loknatya,or people's theater, perform for urban playgoers in the modern theatersof Bombay, Nagpur, and elsewhere. In the 1960s government programmeswere introduced to help companies with financial problems.

    Tamasha is either performed outside in any open spaceor, especially during the monsoon season, in roofed theaters. Theentertainment opens with a gan, or song praising the deities.This is followed by the gaulan, a humorous skit featuring Krishnaand his clown attendant. Next is the vag, a brief humorousdialogue play. This was only added in the 19th century, but is nowthe main feature of the drama.

    Also popular are the lavani, or love songs, which arenow sung by professional dancing girls (they were performed by malesingers disguised as women until the late 19th century). Tamashadance combines classical and folk forms.

    Tamasha is also the name of a London-based theater companyfounded in 1989 with the goal of bringing new Asian writing to the stage.Its productions include Ayub Khan Din's groundbreaking East is East(1996) and the acclaimed A Fine Balance (2006), adapted from the novelby Rohinton Mistry.

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