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Abheesh Sasidharan

Abheesh Sasidharan

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Doctoral Candidate 2016/17

Abheesh Sasidharan is a UGC-SRF doctoral student at the University of Hyderabad, where his focus lies on contemporary performance design. He has received his Masters from the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and a Bachelor of Theatre Arts from the School of Drama & Fine Arts, University of Calicut. He was a team member of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) project on scenography between Wimbledon College of Arts and the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Hyderabad. Abheesh has been working in theatre for the last 13 years as designer, director, dramaturge and researcher. He has presented papers at several national and international conferences, including on “Technological forces in traditional theatre: A study based on Kutiyattam performance” at X International Conference of the Indian Society for Theatre Research, 2014; and “Is it theatre or other? Looking at an interactive performance” at the annual conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research, 2015. He has participated in various festivals, conferences, seminars and workshops in India and abroad.    

Research Project

Designing concepts: Designer process in 3D holographic performance

My research centres on the emergence of conceptual changes in contemporary Indian performance design practice. Following neo-liberalizing policies in India, performance designs have shifted to digital/holographic modes from formerly ‘ritualistic’/‘perspectival’/‘interpretative’/ ‘materialistic’/‘real’ approaches. The arrival of this new mediation/aesthetics, which is unfamiliar to the conventional institutional theatre design process and practice, has given rise to several departures in the field of performance design. Institutional manifestations, including political parties, have widely used digital mediations to connect with the individual icon presented by them to the masses. The introduction and intervention of this digital process has created a paradigm shift in contemporary Indian performance practice, particularly in the field of design at the level of process and materiality. The new aesthetics of this digital/holographic designing process affects the structures of performance and the conventional cultural concept of materiality in Indian performance design. The project will discuss these new manifestations of performance mediation using the framework of performance as an inclusive phenomenon, and explore the contradictions of contemporary Indian digital/holographic performance design in looking at theory and practice.

Book Recommendations

  • Auslander, Philip. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture, London: Routledge, 1999.

  • Baugh, Christopher. Theatre Performance and Technology: The Development of Scenography in the Twentieth Century, New York: Palgrave, 2005.

  • Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media, eds. Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, Thomas Y. Levin, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

  • Causey, Matthew. Theatre and Performance in Digital Culture: From Simulation to Embeddedness, New York: Routledge, 2006.

  • Miller, Daniel. Materiality: Politics, History, and Culture, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2005.

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung