Performing the Ramayana Tradition: Enactments, Interpretations, and Arguments (Paperback)
The Ramayana, one of the two pre-eminent Hindu epics, has played a foundational role in many aspects of India's arts and social norms. For centuries, people learned this narrative by watching, listening, and participating in enactments of it. Although the Ramayana's first extant telling in Sanskrit dates back to ancient times, the story has continued to be retold and rethought through the centuries in many of India's regional languages, such as Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali. The narrative has provided the basis for enactments of its episodes in recitation, musical renditions, dance, and avant-garde performances. This volume introduces non-specialists to the Ramayana's major themes and complexities, as well as to the highly nuanced terms in Indian languages used to represent theater and performance. Two introductions orient readers to the history of Ramayana texts by Tulsidas, Valmiki, Kamban, Sankaradeva, and others, as well as to the dramaturgy and aesthetics of their enactments. The contributed essays provide context-specific analyses of diverse Ramayana performance traditions and the narratives from which they draw. The essays are clustered around the shared themes of the politics of caste and gender; the representation of the anti-hero; contemporary re-interpretations of traditional narratives; and the presence of Ramayana discourse in daily life.
Paula Richman is William H. Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions, Emerita, at Oberlin College, in Ohio. She has edited three volumes and published more than thirty articles on the diversity of the Indian Ramayana tradition. Rustom Bharucha retired as Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Author of several books on performance, he has also worked as a dramaturg worldwide and was involved in the curation of three Ramayana Festivals at the Adishakti Theatre Laboratory in Puducherry, India.