The saga of Indian theatre dates back to 5000 years or more. In fact, the very first book on drama, called the Natya Shastra was written by Bharat Muni. The rich timeline of Indian theatre has gone through a number of periods. These different periods were actually caused by the different rulers who invaded India time and again. Based on the phases of the development of Indian theatre, the history of Indian theatre can actually be classified into three stages:
• Theatre in ancient India,
• Theatre in medieval India and,
• The Modern Indian Theatre,
According to ancient Indian tradition Indian theatre was life size art. Theatre in ancient India was just not an art form but the systematic representation of “trividho shilpam nrutyam gitam vaditam cha” (dancing, singing and playing on musical instruments). Theatre in medieval India gradually became quite a thriving personification and of course a refined embodiment of the realities of life through dance, music and poise. The introduction of “ Loknatya” during mid 16th and late 16th century again added a whole fresh enunciation to Indian theatre during the medieval period. And the modern Indian theatre was influenced by the British rule in India. During 200 years of the British rule in the country, the Indian theatre came into the direct contact with the western theatre and this influence turned a new chapter in the history of Indian theatre while giving birth to the modern Indian theatre.
The rich chronicle of Indian theatre unveils the rich Indian culture and tradition through different dramatic forms. Few forms of theatre are Bhand Pather (Kashmir), Swang (Rohtak & Hathras), Nautanki (Uttar Pradesh), Raasleela, Bhavai (Gujarat), Krishna Jatra (Bengal), Maach (Madhya Pradesh), Bhaona (Assam), Dashavatar ( Goa region), Krishnattam ( Kerala), Mudiyettu (Kerala), Theyyam (Kerala), Koodiyaattam (Kerala), Yakshagaana ( Karnataka), Therukoothu (Tamil Nadu), Bidesia Dance, Burrakatha (Andhra Pradesh), Prahalad Natake (Odisha), Kuravanji.
Puppet Theatre of India- In the traditional puppet theatre of India the contents are generally adapted from puranic literature, local myths and legends which, in turn, imbibes elements of all creative expressions like painting, sculpture, music, dance, drama, etc. The presentation of puppet programmes involves the creative efforts of many people working together. There are four famous types of puppet theatre. They are: String Puppets, Shadow Pappets, Rod Puppets and Glove Puppets.