Campus Theatre: Keeping the flame, Young and Alive!

It reminds one, of the crucial scene in Hirani’s Three idiots where Farhan essayed by the beautifully restrained Madhavan comes out to his family about his photography aspirations. It is tense. There is a brief pause before all hell breaks loose. It reminds us of the realities of a creative career and Oh boy! How well it does.

Theatre was one such black sheep amongst the career listings of most Indian households. Some generalizations are sadly true. But they have constantly changed perceptions because they refused to go down with a fight. There was a time when it was inconceivable to think of theatre as a career option. As little as a decade ago, you would have been likely to be physically hit by your family had you mentioned theatre as a career you would want to pursue.

Theatre decided to fight and uphold courage – it decided to reinvent and innovate, finds its contemporaneity and raise an audience and today it is an important aspect stringing together the young across campuses eventually raising India’s new Theatre entrepreneurs.

Theatre in India is as diverse as its people and its languages. There’s a certain appeal to theatre that just cannot be replicated on the big screen. Sure it’s being taken over by movies and one-minute videos, but thankfully the love for theatre has not been completely lost. Theatre groups have continued to strive on campuses, stemming from the various conversations that have formed over countless cups of Chai. The state of Gujarat is no outsider to this tradition, infact Gujarat and Maharashtra are known for their love of theatre – active hubs where theatre has a place of its own in the hearts of its audience. It has its own dedicated audience.

Over the past decade innovation has led the young and how. Traditional theatres are getting a makeover. Take for example The Mobile Theatre of Assam. It is considered to be one of the most successful theatre movements in the country, commercially and culturally. It has struck a chord with the masses or the fate of our very own nukkad natak in Gujarat that has stormed campuses, streets and taken itself to the rural roads to educate and entertain. There is a certain sense of social responsibility formed in this creative response that has allowed multiple talents to form and create with their diverse capacities.It is not only commercially viable but also opens up a lot of possibilities to be experimentative and creative with art and innovations.The production design, stage design, costumes and props, preparing scripts, rehearsals that stretch into wee hours of the morning, printing flyers and distributing them, setting up billboards, taking care of the light and sound requirements – there is so much that goes in the making of a movement and how.

There is such an interesting mix of theatre disciplines itself where one-act plays meet musicals and cross over mimes and physical theatre etc making them quite the heady concoction to be indulging in this season. Move over Schools, it is the raw talent that is ruling today. These new artists create a new mixture of sound and light design along with their acting skills. Their raw approach to scrip and direction with the applied use of art forms like sciagraphy creates a whole new theatre experience.

The stage was set and the curtains were drawn. The auditorium was packed. Actually the previous line is an understatement. The spotlight spun around at the centre stage character’s footsteps, following him like a hawk eyes its prey. The curtain fell to thunderous applause. The production was a hit. We bowed together, humbled by the love and appreciation showered. That does not sound so hypothetical after all, does it?

 

Illustration : Hasmukh Makwana

 

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