Theater proposes an alternative reality and different possible identities offering a framework of how representation works in performances, and it further provides an understanding of the transformative potential of enactment. The attempt to retrieve and re-write women’s histories through performances develops a culture of reconstructive capacities that resists absorption into the dominant culture. In theater, women have asserted their own vision and exercised their own viewpoints, expanding feminist space and communicating with spectators by employing publicly encoded signs. The folk theater of India, in particular, provides a public space to the (silenced) subaltern to assert agency and question the modalities of power, exclusion, images, and strategies that marginalize women. The paper examines Indian women’s roles on stage and in the folk theater of Chhattisgarh from the 1980s onwards and shows how feminist performances redefine gender binaries and contest popular consciousness. By voicing women’s perspectives, the women performers and women narrators of the epic Mahabharata in folk performances restructure and alter the stage. This paper explores themes of gender, power, construction of theatrical space, and the shifts in feminist positioning created by Teejan Bai and other women Pandwani performers and Kathagayakas.

Author Biography

Shalini Attri is currently working as an Associate Professor in the Department of English at BPS Women’s University, Sonipat, Haryana India. Her doctorate is from Punjab University Chandigarh on “Politics of Representation: A Feminist Study of Vijay Tendulkar's Selected Plays.” Her area of research includes Indian literature and classics, Women’s Studies, Drama Studies, Folk literature, and Theatre. She has published more than thirty papers in journals and books, edited 4 books, and presented research papers at international conferences. Her collaborative book titled Textual Spaces, Emerging Voices: Ecology, Culture, and Woman is under publication agreement.