Although proscenium theatre arrived in 1875, modern playwriting commenced eighteen years earlier. The first play, Gunabhiram Barua`s Ram-Navami i.e. a festival dedicated to Rama on widow remarriage, was written in 1857. The next, Kania kirtan i.e. `Kirtan to Opium` in 1861, was a satire on opium addiction by Hemchandra Barua. Rudra Ram Bordoloi wrote a social farce, Bongal-bongalani or `Bengali Couple` in 1871-2, satirizing lascivious concubines and promiscuous women who married non-Assamese outsiders. However, there is no documentation whether these texts were staged. Neither is it known for certain with which play Assamese theatre raised its curtain. The first mythological drama, Sita haran i.e. `Stealing Sita by Rama Kanta Chaudhury, came in 1875. With two exceptions, all ten or twelve plays written later in the nineteenth century belonged to this genre. The presumption that the first staged Assamese drama was mythological may stand confirmed by a gazette notification of four shows of Ramabhishek i.e. Rama`s Coronation, from 15 May 1875, though this earliest available record does not mention if it was the first-ever production. Bhaona was the most popular traditional Assamese form of that time. This usually drew its plots from mythological sources like the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and the Puranas. It was perhaps natural in the transition from traditional theatre to the new variety to retain the content. Mythological drama dominated till about 1920, though it survived till the 1940s, as in Atulchandra Hazarika`s plays.
Early Assamese drama of this age was in blank verse modeled on the Bengali amitrakshar metre, containing fourteen syllables in each line. Later playwrights broke these constraints by adopting the gairish metre, a kind of free blank verse popularized by the Bengali actor-manager Girish Ghosh. Benudhar Rajkhowa introduced prose dialogue in his Duryodhanar urubhanga i.e. `Duryodhana`s Broken Thigh` in 1903. Historical drama appeared alongside the mythological from the beginning of the twentieth century. The example can be given as Padmanath Gohain Barooah`s Jayamati in 1900, as Indian nationalism and the struggle against British colonialism grew in strength. Emotions ran high. Courage, valour, and glories of the past were recreated to arouse patriotism. Such plays dominated after 1920, supremacy that remained intact till just after Independence in 1947. Maniram Dewan, Lachit Barphukan, and Piyali Phukan, collectively by four members of Nagaon Shilpi Samaj in the town of Nagaon, written and staged immediately before and after Independence and earned phenomenal popularity as well.