Theater of Gujarat

Gujarati theatre relates to theatre conducted in the Gujarati language, such as its ‘languages’. Gujarati theatre is created mainly in Gujarat and Maharashtra, in places like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Baroda, and elsewhere Gujarati diaspora exists, especially North America. Rustam Sohrab, performed by Parsee Natak Mandali on 29 Oct 1853 in Mumbai, marked the beginning of Gujarati theatre.

In late 19th-century, theatre gained strength and travelling theatre companies became popular, executing plays based on a limited repertoire of legendary and spiritual plays. On the other hand, professional theatre trapped to entertainment-based comedies, which delayed the appearance of experimental amateur theatre movement. Progressively as the numbers of plays being published and conducted in Gujarati increased things changed, and lastly a theatre group to steer away from the custom of Parsi theatre and the Bhavai and elements of Indian and European dramaturgy.

The area of Gujarat has a long custom of folk-theatre, Bhavai, which arose in the 14th-century. Thereafter, in the early 16th century, a new element was created by Portuguese missionaries, who conducted Yesu Mashiha Ka Tamasha, depending on the life of Jesus Christ, using the Tamasha folk tradition of Maharashtra, which they imbibed during their work in Goa or Maharashtra.

However, the struggle for dominance between double meaning comedies, big stars-led professional theatre and experimental theatre carries on well into the present times, though many have tried to straddle the middle road and bridge the gap.