EP 280 . 13 Sep 23

Improvisation in Performing Arts

With Trina Banerjee

In the episode

  1. What according to you is improvisation? In how many ways do you see it manifesting? Where do we see it mostly happening? On streets? In life? or just creative endeavours?
  2. When do people improvise? What’s the motivation? Is it expressing themselves in different ways? Is it to communicate better with the other (State, society, individual)? Why do they do? Can you give any examples?
  3. What does it mean to improvise in the context of performing arts (Theatre, Dance, and more)?
  4. Are there categories or genres of improvisation which can be studied systematically? Did different forms of Theatre like the Theatre of Absurd or Pantomime and more emerge due to improvisation?
  5. When and why do people improvise on stage? When do we fail or when do we do something over and over again? Is it the boredom? Is it uncovering deeper layers as they keep performing or revisiting the text?
  6. When and how do improvisations become part of the main setup? As in, no longer be called improvisations? Has it happened that the playwright made changes to the original text as the years passed by?

About Trina Banerjee

Satyajit Ray once said, “There is always room for improvisation”. I think this needs a lot more investigation.


Referring to Ray’s comment on the room of improvisation, today we have the honour to have Dr Trina Banerjee with us on Audiogyan. We’ll talk about improvisation in the context of Theatre, Plays, Playwriting, and performing arts at large.


After completing her MA in English Literature from Jadavpur University, Trina Nileena Banerjee proceeded to complete a Masters of Studies (M St.) in English at the University of Oxford. For her PhD she worked on a history of women in the group theatre movement in Bengal between 1950 and 1980. She has also been researching the interfaces between women’s protest movements and political theatre in contemporary Manipur for several years now. Between 2011 and 2013, she taught at the Theatre and Performance Studies Department at the School of Arts and Aesthetics in Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is currently Assistant Professor in Cultural Studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Her essays have been published in several edited volumes and national/international journals. She writes in both Bengali and English. Her research interests include Gender, Performance, Political Theatre, Theories of the Body, Postcolonial Theatre and South Asian History. She has also been a theatre and film actress, as well as a journalist and fiction writer.