The Natyasastra and the Body in Performance

Essays on Indian Theories of Dance and Drama


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About the Book

The Natyasastra is the deep repository of Indian performance studies. It embodies centuries of performance knowledge developed in South Asia on a range of conceptual issues and practical methodologies of the body. The composition of the Natyasastra is attributed to Sage Bharatha, and dates back to between 200 BC and AD 200. Written in Sanskrit, the text contains 6000 verse stanzas integrated in 36 chapters discussing a wide range of issues in theatre arts, including dramatic composition; construction of the playhouse; detailed analysis of the musical scales; body movements; various types of acting; directing; division of stage space; costumes; make-up; properties and musical instruments. As a discourse on performance, the Natyasastra is an extensive documentation of terminologies, concepts and methodologies. This book presents 14 scholarly essays exploring the Natyasastra from the multiple perspectives of Indian performance studies—epistemological, aesthetic, scientific, religious, ethnological and practical.

About the Author(s)

Sreenath Nair is a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts in the United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Sreenath Nair

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 4 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7178-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1221-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Foreword (M. Krzysztof Byrski) 1

Introduction: The Natyasastra and the Body in the Natyasastra (Sreenath Nair) 3

A Note on Orthography 17

Section 1: Epistemology

The Natyasastra: Explicit and Implicit (Kapila Vatsyayan) 19

Epistemology of Aesthetic Experience: Some Reflections on the Natyasastra (Vashishtha Jha) 44

Section 2: Aesthetics

Abhinaya Redefined (M. Krzysztof Byrski) 63

Rasa: Abhinavagupta on the Purpose(s) of Art (Daniele Cuneo) 72

Comedy, Consciousness and the Natyasastra (Daniel ­Meyer-Dinkgräfe) 89

Brat Tvam Asi: Rasa as a “Conscious State” (David Mason) 99

Section 3: Neuroscience

Rasaesthetics: The Enteric Nervous System in Performance (Richard Schechner) 113

Synesthetics: Rasa as Metaphors in Performance (Sreenath Nair) 135

Rasa Is/As/And Emotional Contagion (Erin B. Mee) 157

Section 4: Religion, Ritual and Kutiyattam

The Aesthetics of Kutiyattam (K. Ayyappa Paniker) 175

Actor’s Imagination: Kutiyattam and the Natyasastra (Arya Madhavan) 182

The Religious Background of the Natyasastra Tradition (Natalia Lidova) 196

Section 5: Transcultural Theory and Performance Practice

Zero Plus One: Beckett and the Natyasastra (Ralph Yarrow) 217

Darshana and Abhinaya: An Alternative to Male Gaze (Uttara Asha Coorlawala) 229

About the Contributors 245

Index 247

Book Reviews & Awards

“The volume provides suggestive ways not only of considering the impact of a unique, provocative ancient text on India’s rich drama and dance cultures but also of understanding Western drama and dance aesthetics and practices…recommended” —Choice.