सुस्वागतम् - जी आयां नूं

"संस्कृति सरोकार" पर पधारने हेतु आपका आभार। आपकी उपस्थिति हमारा उत्साहवर्धन करती है, कृपया अपनी बहुमूल्य टिप्पणी अवश्य दर्ज़ करें। -- नीलम शर्मा 'अंशु'

रविवार, नवंबर 27, 2011

First Public Performance of A Bengali Play - on 27th Nov. 1795 at Ezra St. Calcutta.

जी हां, आज ही के दिन कलकत्ते के एजरा स्ट्रीट में  बांगला नाटक की पहली 
जन प्रस्तुति की गई। इसके प्रस्तोता Gerasim Stepanovich Lebedev को 
हमारा सलाम।

Gerasim Stepanovich Lebedev, a Russian adventurer, linguist, pioneer of 
Bengali theatre (founded Hindu Theatre in 1795), translator, musician and 
writer. Lebedev was born in YaroslavlRussia, to a family of a church 
choirmaster. Gerasim was the oldest son in the family. He had two brothers:
Afanasy and Trefil and sister Antonida. The family later moved to Saint 
Petersburg where Lebedev's father worked in a church. Lebedev learned 
English, French and German by his own effort. In Saint Petersburg Lebedev 
became acquainted with Fyodor Volkov, the founder of the first permanent 
Russian theater. Lebedev was a singer in the court choir and participated in 
the performances of Volkov's theater as well.

He was a self-taught violinist and accompanied Andreas Razumovsky, the 
ambassador designate from Russia to Vienna, as a member of a musical group. 
He fled the entourage and travelled across Europe, earning his livelihood as a 
violinist. He soon joined an English military band that was being sent to India
Lebedev lived in Calcutta (now Kolkata), then the capital of British India, for 
about ten years. During his stay, he started to learn Hindi, Sanskrit and 
Bengali from a local schoolteacher named Golokhnath Das. In exchange, 
Lebedev had to teach Das violin and European music. With the support of a 
Russian doctor, then practicing in Calcutta, he was soon established as a 
musician. Tickets for his musical programmes were priced at Rs. 12. Lebedev 
was the first person to use Indian tunes on Western musical instruments.

With assistance from local intellectuals, Lebedev founded the first European-
style proscenium drama theatre in India. This theatre opened in Calcutta in 
1795. Lebedev translated two plays, The Disguise and Love is the Best Doctor
into Bengali. These two were the first performances in the theatre, with music 
composed by Lebedev himself and lyrics borrowed from the Bengali poet 
Bharatchandra Ray.

The theatre Lebedev established at Domtala (Ezra Street) used for the first 
time Bengali actors and actresses. The show held on 27 November 1795 is 
considered the first performance of the modern Indian theatre.

Apart from his work in the theatre, Lebedev established a press, financed by 
the Czar, for printing Bengali books. He also compiled a short Bangla 
dictionary, wrote a book in Bengali on arithmetic and translated a portion of 
Bharatchandra's Annadamangal into Russian. His dictionary was published in 
1801. He wrote to the Russian ambassador in London about publishing 
Bharatchandra Ray’s works in Russia.

However, the British administration was not supportive of Lebedev‘s activities 
and was annoyed by his sympathetic stance towards the Indians. He also lost 
a court case against an employee, theatre decorator Joseph Batsh and was 
broken financially. Finally, the British authorities expelled him from India in 
1797. He was virtually bankrupt, possessing only a small bag of belongings 
valued at Rs. 295. He was forced to stay a few months in Cape Town to earn 
money for the ticket to Europe.

Lebedev stopped in London on his way back to Russia. In London he published 
Grammar of the Pure and Mixed East Indian Languages which was based on his 
studies of the character of some of the Indian languages, their sources of 
origin and affinity with Asian and European languages.

On his return to Russia, he was employed by the Foreign Ministry. He 
established in St. Petersburg a printing house equipped with Devanāgarī and 
Bengali scripts, the first of its kind in Europe. He published his second book 
Unbiased observations on Brahmin customs , and prepared two other books but 
could not finish those due to illness. Lebedev died in his printing house on 15 
July 1817 and was interred in the Gergiev Cemetery of Bolshaya Okhta in Saint  

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