Promoting language, art through theatre

It was in the late 1960s that drama schools mushroomed in the State, particularly in north Karnataka. However, today, there are not many that are thriving. But this theatre group, called the Kannada Kala Sangha, established in 1964 at Tungabhadra Dam in Bellary district, is still going strong.

The Sangha has made a mark both at the State and national levels. It was registered with Karnataka Nataka Academy, Bangalore in 1980. Kannada Kala Sangha has a dedicated team of artistes who have staged nearly 300 plays of all genres since 1965. Sharing his experience of working with this Kala Sangha, noted theatre personality and singer Dhananjay Kulkarni points out that the troupe has staged many plays even for Doordarshan.

Kulkarni has directed 10 plays for the troupe consisting of 30 members who have dedicated their lives to promote the Kala Sangha. Some of their well-known plays include ‘Dafan’, ‘Naayee kathe’, ‘Rakshasa’, ‘Raavee nadiya dandeya mele’, ‘Jokumaraswamy’ and ‘Beli mattu hola’. Kulkarni has been working with the Sangha from the last 13 years and takes his troupe to Mumbai to perform at annual theatre contests that are held there.

Acknowledging the hardships faced by the artistes because of the absence of a theatre space, Kulkarni points out that his troupe even constructed an amphitheatre in support of the Tungabhadra Dam Site Board. This theatre now serves as a space for artistes to rehearse and stage plays. Slowly, the troupe has gained recognition from the general public who have started extending their help to the Sangha.

Speaking about the programme organised by the Sangha every year, noted theatre personality and advocate Ravi Kulkarni who is associated with the Sangha from the last ten years points out that the Kannada Kala Sangha has been regularly conducting a drama festival for children called ‘Chinnara’ every year during Sankranti to promote the district’s theatre talent.

The Kannada Kala Sangha is also well known for regularly celebrating the birth anniversary of renowned theatre personality and the legendary playwright, late T P Kailasam, on July 29 every year since 1964. The Kannada Kala Sangha also celebrates the birth anniversary of renowned literary personality of Bellary district, late Beechi, on April 24 every year.

Also, in order to promote talent, the Sangha identifies an artiste who has a promising career and awards a cash prize of Rs 5,000 besides a citation in the name of Kailasam.

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