Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a prolific playwright with more than thirty plays to his credit. He is also known for his life-long, passionate engagement with theatre, first at Jorasanko and then at Santiniketan, in multiple roles as actor, director, singer, musician. However, during his own life-time and even after his demise, his experimental plays have proved challenging for directors to stage. Time and again they have been written off as unstageable by prominent theatre makers. Matters have been further complicated by the presence of a spectre of authority around Tagore and his plays often promoted by Visva-Bharati, the institution he founded and which held the copyright of his works till 2001. This book travels through time and space intending to untangle the enigma presented by Tagore’s plays. The book on one hand immerses itself into the archive of Tagore’s plays and his dramaturgy of them in order to problematize the ways in which they have been interpreted. On the other, it also engages with productions of Tagore’s plays during and after his life-time to understand the challenges directors have faced while staging them and the strategies they have embraced to circumvent them. While performing a subjective critical reading of the Tagore theatre-archive, an underlying objective of the book remains to understand the very concept of the archive, as it manifests itself in contemporary dramatic theatre.
Rajdeep Konar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi. He was born and brought at Santiniketan and has received his early education at Visva-Bharati, the institution set up by poet/educationist Rabindranath Tagore. For his doctoral project completed at School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University he has worked on the relationship between ‘theatre’ and the ‘archive’ through a case study of productions of Rabindranath Tagore’s plays. He has been part of conceptualization and execution of multiple performances at Santiniketan, Kolkata and New Delhi. For the past few years, he has been working closely with the Kolkata based blind theatre group Anyadesh, documenting their work as well as functioning as a sighted facilitator. He has recently received a grant from India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore to prepare a documentary monograph on the group. His articles have appeared in reputed journals like Visva-Bharati Quarterly, Economic & Political Weekly and Theatre Research International.