27th March, every year is marked as World Theatre Day. For some, theatre has been a pious platform, which gave them a stage to fulfil their dreams of becoming an actor. Delhi is the hub of theatre. In every college, one can see a surge of plays being showcased. Many of the classics are reworked on and presented to the audience. There are theatre societies or clubs who organize plays, sometimes outside their vicinity also. But in today’s scenario, theatre has been limited to certain clubs and are not presented on a large scale as they used to be. Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai has been in the forefront since its inception. It has also launched the Prithvi Festival to highlight important plays.
There are so many brilliant plays written brilliantly by Vijay Tendulkar, Girish Karnad, Mahesh Dattani and some more. The question here is will the current generation or the future generation will ever know about these plays. Will they ever see them live on stage?
Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe (Silence! The Court is in Session) was a widespread acclaimed play by Vijay Tendulkar. Translated in various languages, the play won critical praise, even winning the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1970. Yayati & Tughlaq by Girish Karnad were widely praised for its screenplay. Mohan Rakesh too flourished in this field with his play Ashadh Ka Ek Din. These are the plays back home, here in India which got applauded for their story. But also imagine watching William Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Or any of Harold Pinter’s plays.
Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai; Source: prithvitheatre.org
With the changing scenario around theatre, cinema and literature, theatre seems to have taken a backseat. Plays are not produced on a large scale. If they are produced or made, they are not promoted enough. Theatre is dying a slow death and there will come a day when theatre becomes a thing of the past just like how magazines are becoming. It is one of the finest art forms which deserves to be seen more often and given due importance. All these classic plays will be lost soon if we don’t preserve them. These classics need to be re-presented in a new light with a better understanding of the play & its themes. Not only the classics but also the new plays which are written today should have a wide publicity. One needs to ensure how Indian theatre can have a wider audience and get worldwide recognition.
Encouragement from one’s college days is an added advantage. College is a place where one can experiment with writing plays, directing them, and inviting more people to gain access to them. One needs to ponder over how theatre has evolved over the years and where it is heading in this fast-paced, ever evolving, technological world. Going digital is probably not the option for theatre as it is best enjoyed live. This is an interesting period that we are living in and it would be interesting to see how things pan out for theatre enthusiasts.