India featured in a large number of performances on the nineteenth-century French stage. The term “contact zones” coined by Mary Louise Pratt in her article “Arts of the Contact Zone” designates spaces where two cultures “meet, clash, and grapple with each other” (34). The nineteenth-century French stage functioned as an ideal contact zone, providing a dynamic forum for the construction of French and Indian identities. My corpus is selected to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of India as a trope in nineteenth-century theatrical performances. In the dissertation, I analyze the plays both as text and performance. In addition, I situate the plays within the context of their time. Theater reviews are an important tool in achieving this contextualization: they allow a play to be studied in situ, giving a glimpse of the social, political, and cultural circumstances surrounding the production. The effects of a turbulent political and social environment are studied by investigating shifts in audience reactions to the same play or to a similar one over a period of time. The study considers an author’s avowed intentions, as recorded in an accompanying preface, along with both the text of the play and the audience response chronicled in press reviews, to see if intention, expression, and reception coincide. The effort is to understand the play as a dynamic event that occurs simultaneously in two directions. On the one hand, the play is shaped by its environment; on the other, it works to inform and influence the audiences who witness it. The nuanced interaction between the Self and the Other is rendered more visible through this approach. With the support of colonial and post-colonial theories such as Orientalism, subalterneity, and hybridity, the issues that are disclosed in this analysis of nineteenth-century French theater are rendered current and relevant. The dissertation is composed of three main chapters. Each chapter is unified in theme, viz. Historical drama, Bayadères, and Sanskrit drama. Different plays with similar themes or different adaptations of the same play are compared to each other. Shifts in time and perspective are recorded, both in the creation as well as the reception of these plays. The treatment of stereotypes is studied in all three chapters. In addition, for each chapter, a specific issue that is particular to that section of the corpus is highlighted: problems of veracity in ostensibly factual historical accounts for Historical drama, the challenges of reconciling reality with imagination (contrasting the actual visit of Indian dancers in France to the theatrical representations of bayadères) for the chapter on bayadères, and challenges of translation for Sanskrit drama. This reveals the complex underpinnings of plays that could appear banal at first glance. The dissertation unfolds the manner in which the French contend with India in the role of the Other during the nineteenth century, when interest in India was at its peak in France. Even when reduced to a finite number of stereotypes, India is perceived as a space of excess; its complex and multifaceted nature is exacerbated by its size and distance from France. India is found to be overwhelming and beyond the reach of French possession, physical or ideological. India cannot be easily co-opted into French narratives of identity-formation: any construction of national, racial or cultural identity, whether of the French Self or the Indian Other, is shown to be unstable. Over the course of the nineteenth century, India reverts to being the place of myth and fantasy it has been since medieval times. Nevertheless, traces of India’s presence on the nineteenth-century stage linger in twenty-first century France in subtle but unmistakable ways.