What are Lokadharmi and Natyadharmi traditions?

Bharata’s Natyashastra was the earliest and most elaborate treatise on dramaturgy written anywhere in the world. India has a longest and richest tradition in theatre going back to at least 5000 years. The origin of Indian theatre is closely related to ancient rituals and seasonal festivities of the country. Hindu theorists from the earliest days conceived of plays in terms of two types of production:

  • Lokadharmi (realistic), which involved the reproduction of human behaviour on the stage and the natural presentation of objects
  • Natyadharmi (conventional), which is the presentation of a play through the use of stylized gestures and symbolism and was considered more artistic than realistic

Theatre in India has encompassed all the other forms of literature and fine arts into its physical presentation: literature, mime, music, dance, movement, painting, sculpture and architecture – all mixed into one and being called ‘Natya’ or Theatre in English.

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