Theatre in Maharashtra:
The theatre in Bengal and Maharashtra is alive because of good writers, innovative directors and an appreciative audience, which is open to changes. The craze for theatre and the eagerness to experiment with its content has remained untouched in Maharashtra, while most other regional theatres have either died their respective deaths, are sinking or are completely dependent on adaptations and translations from other languages.
Theatre is a tradition in Maharashtra and neither the audience nor the playwrights ever look at it as just a medium of entertainment. “Stage is a medium for self expression” says Bhadkamkar. ‘Theatrewallahs’ (People connected with theatre) cite this as a reason behind more and more Marathi youth taking to writing plays. “The tradition of theatre in Maharashtra is so strong that even a mill worker has a play in his mind,” says noted Hindi theatre producer-director, Dinesh Thakur.
Theatre tradition is boosted every time a workshop for playwrights is organized. Hindi-Marathi writer-director Satyadev Dubey, organized workshops way back in 1972 and later in 1989. The former produced names like Mahesh Elkunchwar, G.P Deshpande, Achyut Vaze and the latter brought to fore besides others, the talents of Shafad Khan, Chetan Datar, Rajeev Naik and Prashant Dalvi.
The Pune based Theatre Academy too organises workshops for playwrights. Objective indicators of the success of these workshops are the entries to the annual Maharashtra State Drama Competition. It gets around 450 entries each year from 38 centres all over the state of which at least 100 scripts are original, and by young playwrights.
So, the contributions by the young are flowing in and themes are being experimented with. And all the activity has support.
Tamasha is the principal form of folk theatre of Maharashtra. It emerged in the 16th century. It served as “bawdy lascivious diversion” for both Moghul army and Marathas. The bawdy strain still remains today but has modified to suit the wholesome family tastes of the middle and upper middle class.
Modern Tamasha troupes are of two varieties: song-dance troupe and folk- drama troupe. The philosophical and aesthetic scheme of Tamasha incorporates three basic elements: the entertainment tradition, the more serious propagandist tradition and the devotional tradition.