Sculpture Journal

Henry Moore’s Narayana and Bhataryan: theatre of sacrifice

Sculpture Journal (2021), 30, (3), 323–343.

Abstract

Henry Moore’s unpublished play Narayana and Bhataryan (c. 1919) was first performed in 1920 at Castleford Secondary School. Moore wrote, performed in and designed the programme for this play. Despite timely theatrical returns to Moore’s only surviving literary creation, this play has not yet been the subject of in-depth critical study. Using archival research, this article engages with the play’s early indication of Moore’s sculptural tendencies. It traces the play’s parallels with another play produced in the early twentieth century: Rabindranath Tagore’s Sacrifice. Doing so highlights the cross-cultural echoes that exist in Narayana and Bhataryan, its relationship to early twentieth-century global modernist movements, the thematic presence of posture, architecture, ritual and trauma, and the emergence of Moore’s lifelong concerns with the mother and child and the human body. This article places Moore’s play in critical relationship to his sculpture and introduces his lone contribution to the fabric of modern drama as having cross-cultural relevance in the 1980s when an exhibition of his work toured India.

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Author details

Mohite, Ragini