In this passionate and controversial work, director and critic Rustom Bharucha presents the first major anti-imperialist critique of intercultural theatre, and does so from a Third World perspective.
Bharucha questions the assumptions underlying the theatrical visions of some of the twentieth century's most prominent theatre practitioners and theorists, including Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Eugenio Barba and Peter Brook. He contends that Indian theatre has been grossly mythologized and misinterpreted by Western directors and critics, and questions the ethics of representation in these cross-cultural borrowings. As an anecdote to this problem, Bharucha presents a detailed, dramaturgical analysis of what he describes as an "intra"cultural theatre project that provides an alternative vision of the possibilities of true cultural pluralism.
"Theatre and the World" bravely challenges much of today's "multicultural" theatre movement by calling attention to the post-colonial contradictions and immediacies of theatres in India. He shows how "traditions" have, in fact, been invented in the Indian theatre, and offers an inspiring alternative to this official culture in his radical reading of "traditional performance" and in his documentation of the grass-roots cultural activity of Ninasam, which, although based in the tiny village of Heggodu in Karnataka, still maintains links to the diverse cultures of the world. Bharucha counters the increasing hegemony of Western discourses on interculturalism by calling attention to a different history located in India which needs to be represented.