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The Expansion of the Parsi Theatre

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Part of the Transnational Theatre Histories book series (TTH)

Abstract

This chapter traces the theatre’s first tours across South and Southeast Asia. The period marks the beginning of an intense period of cross-cultural exchange between Parsi drama and pre-colonial Indian performance forms. The Parsis here assumed the role of cultural compradors, facilitating a multidirectional flow of aesthetic commodities in the trading routes mapped by their ancestors. While functioning as a crucible for articulating the complex, uneven cultural displacement between Mughal and colonial aesthetic forms, the Parsi theatre capitalized on European associations of refinement and cultural power through names such as Victoria, Elphinstone, and Alfred; European costumes and musical instruments; a mixed repertoire of melodrama, comedy, opera, and pantomime; and the use of white-face. In this phase the Parsi theatre constituted an identity-building process through consumption, as it facilitated the detachment of cosmopolitan citizenship from race and enabled audiences to consume otherness in ways that subverted established social hierarchies.

Keywords

  • Tours
  • Commercial
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Parsi theatre

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-65836-6_6
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Fig. 6.1

(Source Paṭel, PNTT, 274. Courtesy: The Trustees, The K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai)

Fig. 6.2

(Source Paṭel, PNTT, 159. Courtesy: The Trustees, The K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai)

Fig. 6.3

(Source The Calcutta Parsi Amateur Dramatic Club Golden Jubilee Souvenir Volume. 19071947, Calcutta, 1957. Courtesy: The Calcutta Parsi Amateur Dramatic Club)

Fig. 6.4

(Source Paṭel, PNTT, 160. Courtesy: The Trustees, The K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai)

Fig. 6.5

(Courtesy: Shirin Vakil)

Fig. 6.6

(Courtesy: Shirin Vakil)

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Correspondence to Rashna Darius Nicholson .

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Nicholson, R.D. (2021). The Expansion of the Parsi Theatre. In: The Colonial Public and the Parsi Stage. Transnational Theatre Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65836-6_6

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