The venues where Dramas were staged came to be known as 'RANGMANCH', 'RANGBHOOMI', 'PLAY House', 'RANG CHOGAN', 'RANGPITHIKA' and THEATRE etc.
Opinions of scholars regarding the time of Bharata the author of Bharat Natya Shastra differ. Bharata might have lived sometimes between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D. or might be between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.
The Brahma ordered visvakarma, the celestial architect, to construct a natya griha or a theatre so that admission could be restricted. Being himself one of the gods, ViSvakarma immediately brought into being a theatre, acoustically perfect.
order to prevent any disturbance various gods were entrusted with respective duties
of guarding the actors and actresses, the production material and the theatre
- the Moon was in overall charge of the theatre, the
A detailed description of different types of theatre (Natyamandapa) is given in the second chapter of the Natyasastra by Bharata. It contains one hundred and five stanzas. It gives detailed dimensions and layouts of different types of theatres as well as information on the construction of walls, columns, roof, their decorations etc. the description of theatres is so minute and the reasons, given by Bharata, for fixing their dimensions are based on such scientific facts that there could not be any doubt that such thetres used to be constructed at and before the time of Bharata, and that he must have been well-versed in the various facets of the consruction of the theatre. The name of the second chapter of the Natyasastra is 'Mandapa Vidhanam'. Detailed description of three types of theatres are given. This second chapter is an important evidence regarding the progress in the consruction of big public buildings as early as fourth or fifth century B.C.
The theatre according to the Natyasastra of Bharata, would be as briefly stated below.
1. Theatres are of three types depending on their shape. They are Rectangular, Square and Triangular. Each type is subdivided into three according to their dimensions, as large,medium and small. The large theatre is 108 hastas long, middle is 64 Hastas and the small theatre is 32 hastas long. There are thus Nine types of theatres.(1 hasta= equal to 1.5 foot)
2. Dimensions of theatre are given in Hastas (= 24 angulas) as well as in dandas (= 96 angulas). But theatres are constructed in the measure of Hasta.
3. The theatre is divided in two main parts of equal length. The eastern division is meant for the audience-hall, the theatre being oriented in the east-west direction. The western part is again divided in two equal parts. The eastern part of it is meant for the Rangasirsa and the western part for the green-room. The Rangapitha is the stage and the Rangasirsa is its surface. Separate area is not alloted to the Rangasirsa other than meant for the rangapitha.
4. Mattavarani is not a varandah or a wing located at both the sides of the rangapitha. It is a wooden railing 1½ hastas in height. It is located on th top of the Rangapitha and along its edge that is towards the audience - hall. It is provided with four columns. It serves to protect actors and actress from the attack of intoxicated persons from the audience - hall.
5. Saddharuka is a wooden partition wall separating the green-room from the Rangasirsa.
6. The Natyamandapa should be provided with a plinth (adhisthana). The Rangasirsa should be at the higher level than the plinth.
7. The step - like seating arrangement being fom a distance of eight Hastas from the eastern edge of the Rangapitha. The seating arrangement, in the square-shaped theatre is 32 Hastas long and eight Hastas broad. The easternmost step is at the height of eight hastas from the top of the plinth.
8. The height of the theatre should be equal to that of the two storeyed mandapa. A second floor is not provided either above the stage or the audience - hall.
9. The Rangasirsa of the square shaped theatre is 32 hastas long and eight Hastas broad and not eight Hastas square.
10. Some Columns are embedded in walls. Walls are not load-bearing. The theatre is a column and beam structure.
11. Four door should be provided to the rectangular theatre and three doors, each, to the square-shaped and triangular theatre. A door is provided for the entry of actors from outside to the green-room in all the theatre. Another door is provided in the eastern wall of the theatre for the people to enter the audience-hall. In case of the rectangular theatre, there are two doors in the partition wall separating the stage from the green-room. In case of the square and the triangular theatres,there should be only one door for the entry from the green-room to the stage.
12. The Rangasirsa of the rectangular theatre should be ascending from its easter edge to the western edge. The Rangasirsa of the square theatre should be level.
13. The moulding of the front side of the Rangapitha should be similar to those of vedika, as described in the treatises of Silpasastra.
14. The height of the theatre, like that of a caitya cave, should be equal to a two storeyed mandapa. It should have a barrel vault ype roof like that a caitya cave. The arrangement of columns is similar to that in caitya cave. Those who wants to have an idea of the type of theatres in ancient Indian may derive much benefit by refering to the very usefull diagrams of Bharata's theatres which are given here
DIAGRAMATIC LAYOUT OF THEATRE
ACCORDING TO BHARAT NATYA SHASTRA
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