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Was there life before Bollywood? The event marks the launch of a new book by Kathryn Hansen (Professor at University of Texas at Austin), who will speak about the magical world of popular entertainment that prevailed throughout South Asia in the early twentieth century.

This was a time when Western-style playhouses were found in every Indian city. Professional drama troupes run by Parsi entrepreneurs held crowds spellbound with their spectacular productions. From this vanished period of India’s urban culture, Hansen has retrieved the life-stories of four early Indian actors and playwrights. These autobiographies – replete with anecdote and humour – offer an unparalleled window into the colourful and lively history of Parsi theatre. India’s late-colonial vernacular culture and early cinema history come alive through these accounts.

Kathryn Hansen, a cultural historian with a special interest in Indian theatre, will present material from her new book Stages of Life: Indian Theatre Autobiographies (Anthem Press). This will be followed by a round-table discussion with Francesca Orsini, Reader in the Literatures of North India, SOAS; Ravi Vasudevan, Professor of Film, Director of Sarai, Centre, Delhi, and Smuts Fellow at University of Cambridge; and Rosie Thomas, Reader in Film and Co-Director of University of Westminster’s India Media Centre.

The evening is run in partnership with DSC-South Asian Literature Festival http://southasianlitfest.com/programme-2011 and will conclude with a drinks reception hosted by CREAM at the University of Westminster.  Booking essential. Please register for this FREE event by emailing [email protected]