(photo from National School of Drama)
Read a news item that NSD is doing a series of plays to celebrate its 50th anniversary. I first went for one of NSD’s annual festivals in 1991 (I think). It was held in the open air theatre in NSD’s campus close to Mandi house and Kamani auditorium. Have you ever watched a live performance perched on the steps of an open air amphitheatre surrounded by aficionados, in the darkness of a cold northern winter? If not, do it as soon as possible.
Nothing is an elevating as a live performance; a real person on a stage creating a spell of a character and drawing distinct human beings that make up the audience into that spell and that moment. It is one of the fascinating aspects of being human – this bubble which live theatre creates, encompassing both performers and the audience. I love it.
London is one of the greatest cities on earth and theatre is a big reason for that. West End of course we know. Great plays and fine dining make this THE location for an evening out in that city. But for a truly wonderful experience head out to Regents Park for an evening with the New Shakespeare Company. And here is the kicker; it is fairly close to Baker Street. So if you like both Sherlock Holmes and William Shakespeare, you need go no further for absolute nirvana.
Unfortunately, most Indian cities have practically non-existent facilities for theatre and almost certainly none for open air theatre. Further testimony to the fact that many Indian cities have become some of the most soulless and uninspiring places for human habitation. We have made them like this and we need to figure out how to change this fast. I for one am impatient with the blame game. ‘It is the politicians…’. If we are of a mind to change it, it will change.
My friend Hariharan is the only person I know who has made a real difference in this aspect. He founded and runs a highly innovative company called Bioconserve India (BCIL) which makes sustainable built-spaces. His first project Trans Indus on the outskirts of Bangalore is a very nice implementation of a new urban idiom for India. And it has this beautiful open air amphitheatre where hari does shows regularly. He is a great guy, that Hari.