The flourishing world of Bengali theatre in the latter half of the nineteenth century saw numerous regular amateur and private theatre groups come of age. However, it was a world peopled exclusively by men as they also played the parts of women in the dramas. Women managed to break into this exclusively male world only in 1873, when actresses made their appearance on stage for the first time.
The Actress in the Public Theatres of Calcutta tells the story of this bold new generation of women who, for the first time in the history of Bengali theatre, performed in the public theatres of Calcutta. It traces the journey of these women who not only dared to be a part of the Calcutta-based theatre groups but also put their life and soul into this magical world. They overcame their more often than not straitened circumstances to become the city’s prima donnas and nightingales. The volume also examines whether their relationship with their male mentors and patrons and their attempts to break the shackles and to speak with an independent voice was successful.