Fitting the word into action an ethnographic Journey into theatre
The INDIC THEATRE MONOGRAPH SERIES is an attempt to
publish material on theatre performances and related areas tJ)at
have their roots in the South African Indian experience. To distinguish
performances from the Indian subcontinent, the term 'lndic'
is being used, while 'theatre' is used in its widest sense, encompassing
performance acts from rituals to variety concerts.
This apparent ethnic focus is the direct result of South Africa's
apartheid legacy, where, as a result of imposed racial segregation,
an important area of cultural experience has been sorely neglected
by scholars of South African theatre, mainly through a lack of any
tangible exposure. This neglect, however, is not only a consequence
of the forces of apartheid keeping cultural activity, to, &
large extent, within the narrow confines of race, but also the result
of an academic tradition with a Western cultural bias. This oversight
is also compounded by the fact that lndic theatre is mainly
confined to the KwaZulu-Natal geographic region, the original area
of settlement of the Indian people.
More difficult to prove, but nevertheless sensed, is the suspicion
that lndic theatre is also perceived to be irrelevant to our evolving
cultural identity, and that its main expressions are its exotic, but
culture-specific, dances with overt religious themes that are not
perhaps consonant with a materialist ethos.
Research will show, however, that lndic theatre spans many decades
of vibrant activity in the various Indian languages and in
English, with forms of presentation not limited to what originally
came with the Indian settlers, but showing the influences of other
cultures in a way that makes lndic theatre a unique contribution to
the changing South African cultural experience.
This monograph series seeks to redress the current imbalance in
research undertaken in the field by providing students of theatre
with a springboard for a more in-depth investigation into this neglected