Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
Dramatic poetry is said to have been invented by the sage Bharata, who lived at a very remote period of Indian history, and was the author of a system of music. The drama of these early times was probably nothing more than the Indian Nách-dance (Nautch) of the present day. It was a species of rude pantomime, in which dancing and movements of the body were accompanied by mute gestures of the hands and face, or by singing and music. Subsequently, dialogue was added, and the art of theatrical representation was brought to great perfection. Elaborate treatises were written which laid down minute regulations for the construction and conduct of plays, and subjected dramatic composition to highly artificial rules of poetical and rhetorical style. For example, the Sáhitya-darpana divides Sanskrit plays into two great classes, the Rúpaka or principal dramas, and the Uparúpaka or minor dramas. At the head of the ten species of Rúpaka stands the Nátaka, of which the '[S']akoontalá' is an example. It should consist of from five to ten Acts; it should have a celebrated story for its plot; it should represent heroic or godlike characters and good deeds; it should be written in an elaborate style, and be full of noble sentiments. Moreover, it should be composed like the end of a cow's tail; so that each of the Acts be gradually shorter.
Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
In India, as in Greece, scenic entertainments took place at religious festivals, and on solemn public occasions. Kalidása's '[S']akoontalá' seems to have been acted at the commencement of the summer season—a period peculiarly sacred to Káma-deva, the Indian god of love.
Alexandra Skitiovahas quoted2 years ago
Every Sanskrit play opens with a prologue, or, to speak more correctly, an introduction, designed to prepare the way for the entrance of the dramatis personæ. The prologue commences with a benediction or prayer (pronounced by a Bráhman, or if the stage-manager happened to be of the Bráhmanical caste, by the manager himself), in which the poet invokes the favour of the national deity in behalf of the audience. The blessing is generally followed by a dialogue between the manager and one or two of the actors, in which an account is given of the author of the drama, a complimentary tribute is paid to the critical acumen of the spectators, and such a reference is made to past occurrences or present circumstances as may be necessary for the elucidation of the plot. At the conclusion of the prologue, the manager, by some abrupt exclamation, adroitly introduces one of the dramatic personages, and the real performance commences.
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