Stone edicts and idols discovered in the elephant Cave near Bhuvaneshwar testify that during the second century B. C. the kings of the Kharvel dynasty used to watch the dramas being staged before them. A record has been found of the staging of Murari Misra's Sanskrit play "Anardhraghav" in 9th Century A.D.
It is recorded that at the end of 15th century a play "JAGANNATH VALLABH" was composed according to the tenets of Bharatmuni's Natyashastra and staged.
In Orissa traditions five varieties of folk drama exist viz. "Rama Krishna Bharat Leela", "Dandanatak", "Swang", "Jatra" and "Majlis". Pursuant to the arrival of the British in 1803 modern influences and excess of entertainment made their entries into "Jatra".
In 1877 the first play in Oriya language Jagmohan Lalaji's "BABAJI" was written. It was a story of a Sadhu's search for truth. Another play "SATI" by the same writer was performed in 1887. Around the same time Ramshankar Ray's "HARISHCHANDRA" was also staged.
During the years 1920-1947 Ashwinikumar Ghosh, Kalicharan Patnayak, Kanhucharan Patnayak, Ramcharan Misra, Gopal Choota Ray and others wrote plays.
In 1915 the first theater was built in Cuttack. At this time professional drama companies were started in Cuttack and other towns, and all of which used to stage plays with historical- mythological characters and events. Besides these themes many plays were written centering around the spirit of nationalism by Godavarsinh Misra, Kalindicharan Panigrahi, Harishchandra Badal, Vaikunthnath Patnayak and others.
In the post-independence period i.e., after 1947 the notable modern plays are those penned by Manoranjan Das viz. "JOUBAN", AUGUST MA", "BAKSHI JAGBANDHU", "AGAMI", "BANAHANSI", "ARANYA FANSILA", "SHABDLIPI" etc..
Prominent plays of the New Theater Movement are Bijoy Misra's "SABABHAKAMNE", Biswajit Das's "MRUGAYA", Basantkumar Mahapatra's "MUTTHI MATI KACHA GHADA", Jagannath Prasad Das's "SURYAST PURBARU" and "SAB SHESH LOKA".
Kartik Rathi's plays "SWARGADWAR", "JEEBAN JAGNYA", "ISHWAR JANE JUBAKA" have created a great stir in the Oriya theater movement.
Same as the Bengali people, the people of Orissa are great lovers of drama and are actively engaged in making notable contribution to the Indian Drama.
The information presented here in respect of the Oriya Theatre has been gathered from available sources. It has been like an attempt to gather pearls from the ocean. It is possible that some happenings, names of some dramas and dramatists and drama artists may have been left out. For our lack of knowledge we seek your forgiveness and at the same time request the experts in this field to draw our attention to any errors or mistakes by writing to us the correct details. We assure you such corrections will be promptly carried out.
Further the names of dramas, playwrights and drama artists who are listed here are not in any order of priority of their qualities or achievements but only with a view to present the information as it has been gathered.
Lastly we once again request you to send in your suggestions, information etc. in respect of Oriya dramas and thereby enrich this humble record of the Oriya Theatre.