Cecil Thomas (Tom) Ault (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
submitted: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 17:19:57 -0400 (EDT)
Cecil Thomas (Tom) Ault
Associate Professor of Theater
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
206-I Waller Hall
Indiana PA 15705 USA
Description of work:
Ph.D. in Theatre (University of Michigan, 1983)
M.A. Theatre & English
Set Designer and Scenic Artist for over 20 years. Now, Theatre Historian
with emphasis on Early Italian Renaissance through the Eighteenth century.
However, I am concerned with the whole phenomenon of technical stage production
in the Western world, as it is a spin-off from Italian practice. I have
published on stagecrafe in Italy, France and Germany. My doctoral thesis is on
the staging of operas at the Paris Opera 1763-1873.
Now....about Indian performance. I went to Delhi in 1975 to teach high school
at the American Embassy School. I stayed for three years and became fascinated
with Indian culture. I studied Hindi, which I still know pretty well and
travelled all over the north, including Nepal and Bhutan. I saw some
Rajasthani Khyal players at an exhibition in 1978, and became very interested in
a style of theatre totally different....no stage technology at all....from the
type in which I had been working for so many years. I returned to India many
times after that, especially since I was married to Sharon Lowen, a well known
Odissi dancer. Finally, I got an Indo-US Subcomission grant to go to Rajasthan
in 1986. I went and this launched my second career in theatre, which, actually
has overtaken everything else. I was recently in Jodhpur to
put the finishing touches on my book,
Gods, Heroes & Demons: The Theatre of Rajasthan. It should come out early 2001.
I am also working on the Rani Gumpha, a 1st century B.C. rock cut,
acoustical theatre in Orissa, just outside Bhubaneswar. My colleague,
Umashankar Manthravadi and I presented a paper on that theatre November
1999 at Columbus, Ohio. I have many publications on Western Theatre, plus
an article in Asian Theatre Journal, 1991, on Marwari Khyal.
I applied for a grant from The American Institute of Indian Studies for
2001, and if it comes through, I shall be back in India, mainly in Orissa, to
continue working on the Rani Gumpha. However, I have a "mail collaboration"
with my friends in Jodhpur and Borunda to translate more plays from Marwari
into English. We are focusing now on some very old khyals from the mid 19th
century. Also, I am making an index of the khyals which I now possess.
Dr. Shubha Chowdery (AIIS) told me that the library of congress is doing a
South Asian project and would probably be happy to microfilm my
collection. Incidentally, I found 11 more to add to my collection when I
was there in August 2000, so I have well over 100 titles now.
I hope you find this information useful. There is so much to do and so few
people doing it. Collaborators are welcome!