Ananda Lal (born 1955) is an Indian academic and theatre critic. He is the son of P. Lal, founder of Writers Workshop, one of India's oldest creative writing publishers, established in 1958. He is Professor of English and Coordinator, Rabindranath Tagore Studies Centre (UGC), at Jadavpur University, Calcutta. He also heads Writers Workshop now, translates from Bengali to English, is a theatre critic for The Telegraph (Calcutta) and directs university theatre
His books include the "Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre" (2004, the first reference work in any language on that subject), "Rabindranath Tagore: Three Plays" (1987 and 2001, the first full-length study in English of Tagorean drama), "Theatres of India" (2009), "Twist in the Folktale" (2004), "Shakespeare on the Calcutta Stage" (2001) and "Rasa: The Indian Performing Arts" (1995).
Early life and education
Born in 1955 in Calcutta, India, to P. Lal and Shyamasree Devi, he was educated at St Xavier's School, Presidency College, which was then affiliated with the University of Calcutta, and at the University of Illinois, USA.
He served as Head, Department of English (2007-9), and previously taught in the Department of Comparative Literature (1991–93), at Jadavpur University, Calcutta; the Department of English, University of Calcutta (1989–91); and the Department of Theatre, University of Illinois (1981–86). A Cambridge Fellow (1994) and Fulbright Fellow (2005), he has lectured widely in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and, of course, India.
He has contributed articles to such prestigious international reference projects as "India Today: An Encyclopedia" (ABC-Clio, 2011), "Understanding Contemporary India" (Lynne Rienner, 2010), "Encyclopedia of India" (Charles Scribner's, 2005), "Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance" (2003), "Continuum Companion to Twentieth Century Theatre" (2002), Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (on CD-ROM, 2000), "Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English" (Routledge, 1994, 2005) and "Critical Survey of Drama" (Salem, 1986). He has published over 40 essays in various books and journals, and over 1000 reviews in Indian newspapers and periodicals.
He conceptualized and provided the introduction, commentary and translated texts for a CD of Tagore's own audio recordings, titled The Voice of Rabindranath Tagore (Hindusthan, 1997). He is an active translator of Bengali poetry, contributing to the 'Oxford Tagore Translations' while also publishing translations of Jibanananda Das. He co-ordinates the Translation Studies course in the postgraduate syllabus of the English Department.
Lal has directed twenty theatre productions, many of them for Jadavpur University where he teaches Drama in Practice, and worked in another twenty productions, including such internationally acclaimed successes as Tim Supple's "Midsummer Night's Dream". He has a 30-year-old portfolio in television and film as an awardwinning scriptwriter, researcher, commentator, narrator and subtitler, and has been interviewed by BBC, Radio Nederland and UGC-Doordarshan.
- "Writers' Workshop completes 50 years of literary glory". Indian Express. 4 Oct 2008.
- "P Lal and the Writer's Workshop story". Business Standard. 9 November 2010.
- "City remembers a great scholar & human". The Times of India, Kolkata. 14 Nov 2010.
- "Biblio-beauties". Mint. 9 Dec 2010.
- Santhanam, Kausalya (15 October 2004). "All about Indian Theatre". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 September 2010.