The book is a comprehensive critical history of women performers in Indian theatre and dance of the colonial and postcolonial periods. Its underlying premise is that one cannot evaluate performance in the Indian context without looking at dance and theatre together, unlike the course taken by traditional scholarship. Issues of sexuality and colonialism, and culture and society come together in this study to provide a holistic account of women performers in India.

New information and insights have been provided in the discourse by a close reading of archival materials, field surveys, and extensive interviews, which are the distinguishing features of this book. The book is divided into two sections. The first one is on the Actress, while the second is on the Danseuse in the Indian context. Although linked by the common trajectory of having been part of the same history, society, and culture, they emerge as having evolved in different ways as they encountered some common but many unique situations.

In trying to balance a historical narrative with emphasis on crucial individual topics, the book explores the theme of identity and body politics. It demands a pluralistic approach combining history, economics, cultural studies, popular culture, anthropology, ethnography, and feminist criticism. It will be a rich resource for professionals, scholars, and students specializing in performing arts, cultural studies, gender studies, and history. Archival photographs – some of which have never been published before – make this book a collector's item.

Actresses of the Colonial Space: English Actresses in India (1789–1842)

Actresses of the colonial space: English actresses in India (1789–1842)

The actress, as Nora, in all her splendour comes hesitantly on the ‘Indian’ stage,

…it was not merely an apartment in a house, temporarily fitted up for a single representation, but a distinct edifice completely furnished with every usual convenience and decorated with every ornament customary in familiar places of exhibition—in short a perfect theatre differing only from a public one in its dimensions and agreeing with it in the essential point of being appropriated to amusement without which we might fear that we had tasted joy only to lament the loss of it. (Calcutta Gazette 1789)1

Almost 50 years later, Calcutta's favourite actress, a star of her ...

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