Section Guest Editor: Deepa Punjani (India) [1]


The International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFOK) is among the leading theatre festivals in India, showcasing local, regional as well as international performances. The 6th Edition of ITFOK in January 2014 looked at the new kinds of performances being created. The festival’s theme of “Transition” focused on contemporary theatre practices and explored how these practices were evolving newer and different kinds of theatrical idioms.

In view of the festival’s central theme of “Transition”, the IATC senior critics’ symposium planned by the Indian National Section of the IATC in collaboration with ITFOK contemplated and discussed theatre criticism in the new century. Some of the questions asked were:

How are we as critics responding in our own cultural contexts to the emerging and new kinds of theatre practices? Have these new performances accounted for ‘transition’ in our practices of viewing and reviewing? What are the challenges that theatre critics face today even as they engage with different kinds of theatre performances? What are the views of theatre critics who use the Internet as their platform?

The symposium was attended by few members of the Indian National Section and some IATC colleagues from abroad—Ajay Joshi, Deepa Ganesh, Renu Ramnath, Vikram Phukan, Deepa Punjani, Brad Hathaway, Konrad Szczebiot, Alice Georgescu and Margareta Sörenson were present. The Indian National Section had also extended a special invitation to CS Venkiteswaran, a documentary filmmaker, a scholar in cinema studies, and a keen observer of theatre, film and culture in Kerala.

For this edition of Critical Stages, three papers have been selected, among the nine papers that were presented. All three papers present different and relevant topics concerning theatre and theatre criticism. Renu Ramnath’s paper presents the local context of theatre in Kerala, past and present, and reflects on the new theatre in Kerala and the state of criticism. Margareta Sörenson’s paper engages with the theme of transition from historical, cultural and intercultural perspectives. Brad Hathaway’s paper deliberates on the issue of copyright, intellectual property protection, the rights and duties of theatre critics working in digital media and of how this understanding needs to be strengthened by professional courses.

The IATC Congress in Beijing in October 2014 also invited papers on criticism in the internet era. Since the theme is parallel to the symposium at ITFOK, and is a pressing theme, two more papers have been included in this edition from the Beijing Congress.

Stéphane Gilbart from Belgium suggests a new way of working that would meet the new realities of the world in which criticism is practised. He talks of three stages through which online reviews can be read. Finally, we have Jean-Pierre Han from France, who, while dwelling on the particular topic, also raises fundamental points about the professional critic.

[1] Deepa Punjani is the Editor of Mumbai Theatre Guide ( She has been involved with theatre in different capacities. Her M.Phil thesis focused on two women theatre practitioners from India in the context of feminism and gender representation on the Indian stage. Deepa is the representative of the Indian National Section of the IATC and a member of the IATC’s Excom.


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