Dying on the stage in the Nāt{dot below}yaśāstra and Kūt{dot below}iyāt{dot below}t{dot below}am: Perspectives from the Sanskrit theatre tradition

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Abstract

The Sanskrit theatre tradition of India has often been regarded as avoiding, even prohibiting, depiction of death on the stage. This article argues that death was both threatened and enacted, on the stage, and has always been integral to the Sanskrit theatre tradition, as seen to the present day in Kerala's kūt{dot below}iyāt{dot below}t{dot below}am tradition. The apparent conflict between "rules" from the Nātyaśāstra, the normative text for theatre, and actual dramas is examined, and the surprisingly large number of references in the Nāt{dot below}yaśāstra to dramatic uses of death are discussed. For the audience member, seeing depictions of or threats of deaths on the stage can be a significant component of the Indic theatrical experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-439
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Theatre Journal
Volume24
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2007

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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