All the world’s a stage  

Before World Theatre Day, we speak to thespians, founders of cultural spaces in the city who tell us why it is tough to sustain theatre, how the rewards of doing so are well worth the effort, and more
For representational purpose
For representational purpose

As we gear up to celebrate World Theatre Day, the vibrant city of Hyderabad is abuzz with excitement and anticipation, thanks to the tireless efforts of art enthusiasts, auteurs and erudite symposia. The art form empowers contesting execution without the hinderance of censorship, while trying to find finances and acceptability. To sustain it, one must understand that theatre mandates a deep commitment to the craft, a willingness to take risks, and fidelity to instituting work that is engrossing and pertinent to our times. 

Carrying on the legacy 
The revival of solemn, momentous theatre in Hyderabad was the cornerstone of the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation — unmoving and serving as the association’s compass. Along the way, this has given its original, professional theatre an international boost, enabling it to be produced at locations and festivals unheard of in Telangana’s theatre history. In addition to its popularity in India, the festival has now travelled to London, Dubai, and Singapore, marking yet another first for an Indian theatre event. When they gather to honour doyen Qadir Ali Baig every year, some prominent artists claim that the programme has grown to be synonymous with the city’s artscape. “Our theatre always reflected the values and ethos we believe in — the beauty of our pluralistic and syncretic culture. Since our repertory and the groups we work with around the world comprise actors, technicians and stage craftsmen from different parts of the world, ethnicities and backgrounds, our work is sensitive to the audience’s sensibilities,” Mohammad Ali Baig, theatre revivalist and curator of the festival tells us. 
Experimental storytelling 
Nestled in the heart of the city at Banjara Hills, Lamakaan is a veritable melting pot of ideas, where artists, activists, and thinkers come together to create a space for dialogue and exchange. It is a hub for progressive theatre, showcasing plays that challenge traditional norms and push the boundaries of ingenuity. Vamsi Matta’s Come Eat With Me offered a striking and insightful Dalit philosophy on society through the discourse around food. The session brilliantly highlighted how sustenance can be an assertive agency for resistance, and empowerment — how the Dalit community, since times immemorial, has used food as a means to reclaim their identity and contest dictatorial social structures. 
Nisha Abulla’s We Push The Sky was another standout performance that took the audience on a deeply introspective journey, exploring the convoluted interplay between love, faith, and relationships amidst burgeoning polarization. “We provide the space entirely for free, including lights, sound, etc. That, combined with our digital media community ensures a reasonably informed though compact audience for the plays. The booking process is entirely online. We work with upcoming and new amateur groups that aren’t necessarily polished and well-organised. So, instead of seeking out the best, we also seek out the different and the experimental,” Ashhar Farhan, one of the founding members of Lamakaan tells us. 

From stage to screen
Furthermore, the allure of the film industry is undeniable, and it is no surprise that many thespians aspire to transition into the world of cinema. Partially, this can be seen as a blessing, as it allows emerging stagers to manoeuvre the medium as a training ground, and procure more recognition and visibility. Rathna Shekar, theatric and founder of the 2008-formed city-based ensemble Samahaara tells us, “Moving from the stage to cinema has made a considerable impact on us and the common masses — those who never saw a play or even heard of a theatre group suddenly realised the presence of the art form.” But, as a stepping stone to be coached as an actor at the movies. “Because here’s the truth — there are several rewards from pursuing theatre, but the space is very limited,” he adds.  
On March 27.

Twitter: @PaulChokita


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