Drama/Theatre/Performance

One may think that Drama, Theatre and Performance operate in the same general area. Yes, but each of them reflects uniqueness in terms of practice as well as pedagogy. In addition, it is about how one approaches them in the context of her own practice as an artist or a teacher. Conventionally speaking, Drama privileges the literary text; and it seems to imply, without saying, that the real object of study is the play script and the only prime creator is the playwright. Initially, in India and elsewhere, Drama training was looked upon to counteract the purely literary and textual study of drama that would be considered as the usual area of language and literature departments. With the expansion of higher education, emergence of new institutions, and creation of newer practices; newer perspectives and methodologies evolved. The title ‘Drama department’ began to fall out of favour. As the practices and curriculum expanded to include different sorts of theatrical forms including folk performances and cover studies in theatre companies, stage design, light, music etc; ‘Drama’ became inadequate to address newer changes. One of the reactions came through the resistance to drama as a defining norm. It came from the running of degree courses which offered a more skill based and vocational programmes through Theatre Schools. Of course, some of the Schools, like National School of Drama, do have ‘drama’ in their title though they are not in the training of Drama, in the strict sense of the word. 
Photo: Ashutosh Potdar
The field of practices and pedagogies expands when chooses to focus equally on dance, music and theatrical performance. In this, dance, theatre or music does not come as a supplementary or complimentary to each other but on their own. They speak to each other. One would prefer to call it Performance. Then it becomes the broader category. Theatre can form one of the expressions within the category of Performance. Other expressions could be a musical performance, a street play, the act of procession, rituals, games or a dance-theater piece. For Performance, it does not remain only staging of a written drama.

Photo: Ashutosh Potdar

The quote I have used in my facebook: 'The new paradigm is performance, not theatre' is of the scholar and practioner, Richard Schechner, the pioneer figure in performance studies. Schechner draws attention to forms of performance that take place in venues other than theatres and to the performative in everyday life. This doesn’t mean that one has to be dismissive of Drama and Theatre in Performance. In fact, performance may take both these terms to a new level responding to newer practices and pedagogies that aim at crossing disciplinary boundaries. Thus, extending from Drama and Theatre, Performance creates possibilities of collaborative process with an artist or a team of artists. As well, it extends itself to the other discipline in Humanities.  
Photo: Ashutosh Potdar

In addition, when we say Performance, I do not mean only production and something that we see on the Stage. I also mean the process (es) by which we reach certain stage of work that is ready to present or perform. The process itself becomes quintessential to understanding of an artist in her world experience. Well, it is also urge of an artist that drives her to a Drama, a Theatre or a Performance.

With the term Performance, some of the practitioners that come in mind are Astad Deboo, Sunil Shanbaug, Inder Salim, Padmini Chettur, Parvathy Baul, Anurupa Roy and, performances like that of the Yakshagana, Mayabazar of Surabhi Natya Company, Janam Theatre and the Tamasha.
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