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English Theatre in Colonial Calcutta: The Case of Mrs.. Esther Leach

Dr Samipendra Banerjee


When it comes to scholarship on various aspects of Indian theatre, there is still a lot of work that remains to be done. One such area is the colonial theatre of old Calcutta during the nineteenth century. Modernity in the theatre arrived in India with the British and the English theatres of the time influenced the growth and development of Bengali and Indian theatre later. This brief paper examines the history of two playhouses of English theatre around the middle of the nineteenth century—the Chowringhee Theatre and the Sans Souci Theatre, and recounts how Mrs Esther Leach almost single-handedly led the scene and established the Sans Souci theatre. This article glimpses at the performance culture of the time and wishes to rekindle interest in the theatres of a bygone era in order to better understand the history and politics of theatre.     

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