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Sri Lankan Theater in a Time of Terror
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Sri Lankan Theater in a Time of Terror
Political Satire in a Permitted Space


© 1999 | 212 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd
This book deals with the role of theater in Sri Lanka during the decade of the 1980s, a period of intense political violence and anomie which was known locally as bhisana kalaya, or the "time of terror." Yet even as an authoritarian government and antigovernment terrorist groups held the civilian population to ransom, theater was paradoxically permitted a great degree of freedom. Audiences flocked to theaters to see and hear satire, political innuendo, and open criticism of what was going on in society. In trying to understand this tolerance of criticism in the theater as opposed to other arenas, Ranjini Obeyesekere links it to the long tradition of satire in folk and ritual performances. She also explores the impact of Buddhism on the larger culture, which resulted in the rapid and early spread of literacy. This, together with the Buddhist tradition of skepticism and its space for questioning, created a critical attitude towards authority figures. In conclusion, the author sees today's highly politicized Sri Lankan society as a natural development of sociocultural forces that have a long history. A most unusual and absorbing book.
 
Introduction
Buddhism, Literacy and Political Satire  
 
PART ONE: THE VIOLENT DECADE: THEATER IN THE 1980S
 
The Political Context
 
The Theater Scene
 
Street Theater
 
Synopses of a Few Recent Plays
 
The Theater and the 'Open Economy'
 
Interviews with Young Theater Artists
 
PART TWO: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A THEATER TRADITION
 
Theravada Buddhism and Dramatic Performance
 
The Satiric Tradition in Folk Ritual
 
Folk Drama
The Continuity of the Satiric Tradition  
 
Sinhala Drama in Colonial Times
 
Modern Drama in the Mid-Twentieth Century
 
The State and the Drama Festivals
 
Audiences and Their Theaters
 
Conclusion

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ISBN: 9780761993018
$82.00