The Parsi Theatre

Its Origins and Development
Translated by Kathryn Hansen
₹599.00 $24.50 £19.99

A seminal study of a historically significant theater style.
Unrivalled in its long-term impact, Parsi theatre remains a crucial component of South Asia’s cultural heritage. Like vaudeville in America, Parsi theatre dominated mass entertainment in colonial India in the era before cinema. Each night crowds filled the country’s urban playhouses, drawn by the magic of sight and sound. This cosmopolitan theatre brought an unprecedented level of sophistication to the South Asian stage, with its extravagant acting, operatic singing, and melodramatic stage effects. It transformed commercial drama into a modern industry, paving the way for Indian cinema. This volume presents Somnath Gupt’s classic history of Parsi theatre in an English translation enhanced by illustrations, annotations and appendices, which make it a more comprehensive and accurate reference work.

Click here to read an interview with translator and South Asia specialist Kathryn Hansen on

‘Significantly for us, Gupt dedicated his book to “all those Parsis, Hindus, Muslims and Christians who spread the art of theatre”, not only acknowledging the collaborative part of other communities in the initially Parsi enterprise, but also the liberal, cosmopolitan and hybrid nature of theatre itself.’—Dr Ananda Lal.

ISBN: 9781803092003
Pages: 240 | 32 halftones
Publication Year: February 2023
Format: Paperback
Size: 6 x 9.25
Rights: UCP
Series: The India List
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