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Indian Method in Acting

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Item Code: HAP798
Author: Prasanna
Publisher: National School of Drama, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9788181970664
Pages: 259 (B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 9.00x7.00 inch
Weight 510 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description
About the Author

Prasanna (born 1951), theatre director and playwright, is considered one of the pioneers of modern Kannada theatre. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, he founded the theatre group Samudaya in the 1970s along with other activists. He is known for his organizational skills, and new ideas and innovations in theatre. Prasanna is a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, and is currently a Tagore Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.

Prasanna has worked with several theatre groups and institutions across India, and with some of the countrys best known actors. He has directed plays for the National School of Drama (New Delhi), Neenasam (Heggodu, Karnataka), Rangmandal (Bhopal) and Rangayana (Mysore), among others. His noted stage productions include Tughlaq, Gandhi, Life of Galileo, Thai, Acharya Tartuffe, Lal Ghas par Neele Ghode, Ek Lok Katha, Shakuntalam, The Ascent of Fujiyama, Uttararamacharitam, Cupids Broken Arrow, Hamlet, Agni aur Barkha and Seema Paar.

Prasanna lives in Heggodu, Karnataka.


Indian writing on acting has been shaped by literatures and manuals that have defined and delineated acting protocols by classifying in great detail gesture, posture, stance and muda, and their affects. Prasanna directs a modernist lens on this repository and looks at the current grammars that go towards making up today's toolkit; and in so doing, he places ancient and modern vocabularies and practices adjacent to each other.

An Indian actor practising today will, in all probability, have heard of the conventions that emerged in Europe in the early twentieth century through the notes and work of Stanislavsky, who sought to discipline an actor's creativity, inspiration and talent through the introduction of fine-tuned exercises. He wrote these up after a process of self- reflection in order to formulate what he, as a practising actor, needed to do to sustain energy concentration, and to transmit emotion, affect and theatrical meaning to an audience. What Stanislavsky formalized as a system or method might have existed in the toolkit of actors before him in a random or intuitive way. His annotated deconstruction of his working process positioned the discovery of sub-text and psychological realism as critically important; even today, in the imagination of actors working across the world, it might be the most dominant and popular way of producing and reading actorly work. Prasanna places this method and Indian performance protocols as contiguous - which of course they are, especially in our contexts.


The writing of this book is a long story. In the year 2007, I published a book on acting, in Kannada, whose title when translated reads as: "Lessons in Acting'. This became a very successful book. Then there was a suggestion from the National School of Drama that 1 get it translated into English. A dear friend of mine, Sowmya Aji, an actress, a journalist and an activist, undertook the task and sent me the first draft of the translation. When I read the draft, however, I had doubts not about Sowmya's translation, which was excellent, but about the translation project itself.

I realized that a book in English of this nature, unlike its Kannada counterpart, would need to define the Indian method with particular reference and in comparison to the prevailing Western methodology of acting. And, it would need to define the Indian method as a contemporary method, and not as one based on classical theory alone. I do believe that there is a contemporary style of acting specific to India.

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