Neenasam has degenerated: Shivaprakash

Noted playwright H S Shivaprakash on Tuesday launched a blistering attack against Neenasam, an important theatre school in the State based in Heggodu, Shimoga. 

“Neenasam, generously funded by the government and Ford Foundation, has limited itself to being a fund-raising venture, staging three plays, including a children’s play, every year,” he said.

Shivaprakash, who teaches at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, has been appointed the Director of the prestigious Tagore Centre in Berlin.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘The Minimum Responsibilities of Local Administration Towards Theatre,’ Shivaprakash said that though the government has been giving grants equivalent to what is provided to an akademi, Neenasam, in affiliation with a Mumbai-based institution, was concerned more about raising foreign funds than encouraging local theatre. 

“Ranga Mandals (theatres) set up with an objective of strengthening regional theatres, have become ‘rum’ mandals,” Shivaprakash remarked.

“Former chairman of the National School of Drama B V Karanth and his acolytes did not work towards developing regional theatre. Karanth, even while expressing concern for regional theatre, just managed to imbue some local flavour into the modern theatre,” he added.

The playwright lamented that the theatre craft of the dalits and tribals is vanishing due to the apathy of the State and Central governments, the NSD and institutions such as Neenasam.

All that such institutions had managed was to cut off the regional theatre from its roots and destroy regionality, he said.

The need of the hour is to protect the local, regional theatre arts with proper understanding of the political economy of the theatre, Shivaprakash said.

Later speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Shivaprakash said seers were not cultural ambassadors and culture did not require mutts and seers.

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