The script to success

The script to success

Come weekends and Bengalureans look forward to catching a play. While theatre is not for everyone, there are many who are passionate about it and believe that the medium is only going to grow despite the challenges it faces. On the occasion of ‘World Theatre Day’, theatre artistes in the City share their thoughts about life on stage and the hurdles they come across.

Rangaraj Bhatracharya, co-founder and CEO of WeMove Theatre, says that theatre has changed in a positive way. “Earlier, people believed that theatre was for intellectuals. Now, even the common man watches plays.” But despite the theatre scene being active, there is not much infrastructural support.

“There are only five to six auditoriums that one can perform at. The positive side is that smaller spaces like Rangoli Metro Art Center have also sprung up,” he says. “With the number of theatre groups in the City, there is also the pressure to perform regularly or the audience can forget who you are,” he says.

There seems to be an increasing viewership for theatre, vouches Puneet Gupta, co-founder of Mad Hats Theatre.

“In the last one year, we have done two productions that included a serious script and an entertaining one. I learnt that good writing and a subject that people relate to is of utmost importance.” There are many scripts from outside that are adapted or enacted accordingly, but one cannot see as much experimentation as there should be, he says.

 “One can see the same topics being done by many groups. But, there are groups who are trying different storytelling techniques too,” says Puneet. He adds that theatre has become an alternative medium of entertainment. “But it’s still not reached where it should be.”

Saad Khan, founder and creative head of Centerstage, says that with new ideas like ‘The Improv’, where the audience is also involved, the scene is changing. “People want to be entertained and they want to get every penny’s worth. Considering the stress that people face, they would rather go to a dance performance or a peaceful musical night than sit through an intense play.” This is how the insurgence of comedy happened,” explains Saad. He says that serious plays which have big names like Anupam Kher or Shabana Azmi are still crowd-pullers though.

Writer and director Prakash Belawadi, on the contrary, says that actors rarely attract the crowd now. “In the 70s, it was possible to become recognised as a theatre activist. But today, theatre is less dependant on actors and is more linked to the names of directors and theatre groups. Many people made it to cinema through theatre, but now it’s not the same,” says Prakash. He also says that earlier Kannada theatre was on the cutting edge and English language theatre was at the margin. “English language theatre had a dedicated audience, which was ready to pay higher ticket prices. They would get plays from around the world and the text would be good. But now, it has become more original, yet the presence is smaller.” Prakash feels that though there is a population explosion, the audience hasn’t grown accordingly.

“Theatre has become more organic. Today’s theatre has aesthetics that one can relate to one’s own experiences.”

Whatever the challenges and changes theatre faces, “theatre still continues”, vouches the artistic director of Jagriti Theatre, Arundhati Raja.

 “Every time there’s a change, people worry about the future of theatre, and it continues. The change that I have seen is that there are  new approaches to performance and new writings in English,” she sums up.

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