Towards Theatre Policy

Towards theatre Policy

The first meeting of the India Theatre Forum
18, 19, 20, 21 May 2006

The first meeting of the India Theatre Forum in May 2006 was an attempt to understand the Policy for theatre in India. In our country, Policy often gets simply understood as Government Policy, and that too only in the area of Funding. We are clear that we must look beyond, and ask ourselves as concerned theatre persons what Policy towards the performing arts could be, and how we could play in active role in conceptualising, taking responsibility for, and implementing such Policy.

The Entertainment Industry
  •    The Entertainment Industry by Akshara KV & Raghunandana
Glimpses of Stories From Across the Globe
  •    The Role of the State in Developing Theatre by Heiko Sievers
  •    MIT's support and Involvement with Theatre by Alan Brody
A Peek into the Indian Story
  •    Policies of Sangeet Natak Academy and National School of Drama by Anita Cherian
  •    Bengal Government Policy towards Theatre by Samik Bandhopadhyay
Revisioning the Future
  •    Revisioning the Future by George Jose
Round Up
  •    Round Up

An article on National Cultural Policy by Devdutt, a senior Delhi-based journalist.

A paper in two parts on creative self-empowerment by Rajeev Sethi

International Data on Government Spending on the Arts

by Roberto Bedoya, a writer and arts consultant.

The Freedom to think, create & express oneself justifies the existence of a private theatre

An interview with Micheline Attoun, Director of Theatre Ouvert (Open Theater)

An article by Shiv Vishvanathan

An article by Ramu Ramnathan

It is time to give the thousands of crafts, skills and cultural legacies the recognition of being an economic sector in their own right.
An article in The Hindu by Shanta Serbjeet Singh (Chairperson, APPAN International, New Delhi.)

Akshara KV | Writer/Director/Administration – Ninasam, Heggodu

Akshara KV works at Ninasam, theatre and cultural group at Heggodu, Karnataka. He has undergone training in theatre at the NSD and the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds, UK. Has directed several productions in Kannada and has written 3 plays apart from several adaptations and books on theatre and culture. He also heads, Akshara Prakashana, a publication in Karnataka.

Alan Brody Professor – MIT

Alan Brody is Associate Provost for the Arts and Professor of Theater at MIT. His plays have won numerous awards and have had productions and staged readings at theaters such as The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Aspen Playwrights Conference, The Live Oak Theater in Austin, Texas, The Berkshire Theater Festival and Theater Forty in Beverly Hills. His plays include Invention for Fathers and Sons, The Company of Angels , The Housewives of Mannheim, Matchpoint, Five Scenes From Life, Greytop in Love ,One-on-One and Medea's Nurse. He has also writtten a dramatic oratorio, Reckoning Time: A Song of Walt Whitman in collaboration with composer Peter Child (MIT Professor of Music). Among his credits as a director are Vinie Burrows' internationally acclaimed one-woman show, Sister! Sister! and the world premieres of two operas, T.J. Anderson's Soldier Boy, Soldier and Ken Guilmartin's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Mr. Brody is also the author of two novels, Coming To (1973) and Hey Lenny, Hey Jack (1975).

Anita Cherian Professor – Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi

Anita Cherian teaches English at the University of Delhi’s Indraprastha College for Women. However, her research interests are directed towards the study of Cultural Policy, Performance and the State. She completed her doctoral thesis, titled ‘Fashioning a National Theatre: Institutions and Cultural Policy in Post-Independence’ from the Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Archana Ramaswamy is an actress and a trained Bharatanatyam dancer. She also has some training in Odissi. She has recently been working in dance-theatre productions with Ranan, Calcutta, and is currently a member of the cast touring with British Council’s production of Tim Supple’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Archana has also worked closely with Prithvi Festivals for the last few years, in various organisational capacities, and collaborated with Prithvi to take Footsbarn to Chennai during their all-India tour in Jan – Feb 2005. She has a dream of setting up an arts resource centre that will provide both material resources and a platform for artist interactions with each other and their audiences.

D Reghoothaman Director – Abhinaya

D Reghoothaman is Director of ABHINAYA, a theatre research centre functioning from Thiruvananthapuram since 1992, for which he took the major initiative and interest. Now Abhinaya is a theatre group of international repute; Reghoothaman has been working as its Director since its inception. In 1995, Reghoothaman was one of the artists from Kerala selected by Footsbarn Travelling Theatre (France) in 1995 to work with them. He worked with Footsbarn till 1997, staging more than 150 productions of the play THE ODYSSEY across the world. Reghoothaman has also worked extensively with his mentor, Prof. G Sankara Pillai, assisting him and acting in several plays. He is a graduate of the School of Drama at University of Calicut, before which he was associated with Nataka Yogam, a theatre group in Thiruvananthapuram. Soon after graduation he led a four member team on a six month All India Performance Tour. On his return to Kerala in 1989, he started learning Kathakali, Kalarippayattu and sculpture.

Devi Administration – Praja Natya Mandali

Devi is President, Praja Natya Mandali, Andhra Pradesh. Praja Natya Mandali is the largest people’s cultural organization of Andhra Pradesh, with 1180 teams and 25,000 members across the entire state. The teams do street theatre, proscenium plays, folk forums (like dappu, kolattam, bhajans, tappetagullo, oggukatha, etc). A large majority of the teams are rural. More than 70% of the membership of Praja Natya Mandali is composed of dalits and tribals. Praja Natya Mandali organises many theatre festivals through the year.

G P Deshpande Playwright/Writer/Professor

Andreas Luebbers (b. 1961), after finishing studies of german literature and history of arts, began working in theatre as a dramaturg. He worked at the german puplic theatres of Hamburg (Thalia Theater and Deutsches Schauspielhaus), Berlin (Berliner Ensemble), Heilbronn, Bremerhaven, Hannover and Bad Gandersheim. After 10 years as an employee, Andreas opened his own (off-)theatre in Hamburg: The Hamburger Sprechwerk, a 150-seater with a 180 sq. m. stage. Since September 2004, the theatre has been playing continously with a programme which includes, in the main, freelancing contemporary dancers, speechtheatre-ensembles and some musictheatre-pieces.

George Jose Asia Society

George is an independent social science researcher and adjunct faculty in a range of educational institutions. He taught sociology for several years (1994-99) before working as a Programme Officer with India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), Bengaluru (1999-2005). And until last year George was the Programme Director of Asia Society India Centre (2006-2011). He has acted in student films, and theatre productions including Harold Pinter’s 'Dwarfs', 'Landscape' and 'Silence', and Peter Shaffer’s 'The Royal Hunt of the Sun'. George was a member of the core organising team for the Prithvi International Theatre Festival, Bombay, in 1989.

Heiko Sievers Programme Director, South Asia – Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan

Heiko Sievers is Regional Programme Director for South Asia at the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi. He studied Philosophy and Social Sciences and obtained a Masters degree in Psychology from the Berlin Free University (FUB) where he subsequently taught Epistemology, History of Science and Film Aesthetics (1981-1986). In 1987 he joined the Goethe-Institut and served as Director of the Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore from 1990 to 1995 and of the Goethe-Institut Lisbon from 1996 to 1999; he then headed the Cultural Programme Dept. in the Goethe-Institut's Head Office in Munich before being again posted to India in 2003. In India he has co-edited Structural Adjustment. Economy, Environment, Social Concerns (with Shobha Raghuram & Vinod Vyasulu, Macmillan, 1995); Rules, Laws, Constitutions (with Satish Saberwal, Sage, 1998); Reason, Morality and Beauty and Terror, Peace and Universalism. Essays on the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (2 vol.s, with Bindu Puri, OUP, forthcoming 2006).

Lisa Stepf Actor

Lisa Stepf was born in 1979 in Kassel, Germany She has been an actress of the independent company Flinntheater since 1998, was Assistant of the International Ambassador at the New York City Fringe Festival 2001. She has a Bachelor in Cultural Management from the University of Lüneburg, Germany and a Master in Applied Cultural Studies, Focus on Theatre, Music and Cultural Studies, University of Hildesheim, Germany 2006. Lisa Stepf will be writing for and Kultur.Politik.Diskurs about the Policy Forum.

Niloufer Sagar Program Associate - SRTT

Niloufer Sagar is currently working as part-time Program Associate with the Arts and Culture cell of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, a funding agency. She was with the management of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival from July 2004 to March 2006. She has also done Stage Management and Production Control for RAGE Productions, an English theatre company in Bombay, from 1995 to 2002 (part-time) and full time from May 2003 to July 2004. Productions include I’m not Bajirao, Six Degrees of Separation, Going Solo, Jesus Christ Superstar, Going Solo 2: Living on the Edge, Love Letters, Class of ’84, Pune Highway and Hard Places. She has also done production control for Writers’ Bloc, a festival of new Indian writing produced by Rage, programme Co-ordination for the Jindal Arts Creative Interaction Centre of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, theatre Programming Co-ordination for the National Centre for the Performing Arts from October 2001 to March 2003, and various other freelance jobs and volunteer activities in theatre programming and management.

Prasad Vanarase Director/Translator/Administration – F.L.A.M.E.

Prasad Vanarase is a graduate of the National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi. He has directed more than 50 plays and short plays in Marathi, Hindi, Konkani, Kannada and English. He has also translated and adapted plays in Marathi. Prasad works in three interrelated areas, those of Direction, Administration, and the Management of arts and performing arts. He is a founder trustee of Abhijaat Rangabhoomi, Pune. He has been associated with the London International Festival of Theatre for the last 3 years. He also works as National Creative Coordinator of Project Phakama in India. He has been involved in theatre training for more than 12 years and has worked as visiting faculty / guest director at the University of Pune, the NINASAM Theatre Institute, and the Shriram Centre for Performing Arts to name a few.

Pravin K P | Director/Administration/Painter – Magic Lantern, Chennai

Pravin K P is one of the founders of Magic Lantern, a Chennai-based theatre group. He has undergone professional training in theatre at the Strasbourg school of Theatre, France. Having directed ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Caligula’ for Koothu-p-pattarai, Pravin went on to direct ‘Wings and Masks’(contemporary dance), ‘Fables’, ‘Jeremy’, ‘Veshakkaran’, ‘Mashali Mohalla’ and ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ for Magic Lantern. He has been a vital part of many theatre and artists symposiums in Europe. Pravin mainly directs and produces plays, while also co-ordinating administrative matters and painting.

Quasar Thakore Padamsee Director – QTP

Quasar Thakore Padamsee is a member of the core team of Q Theatre Productions (QTP), a young theatre group of Bombay, and a theatre junkie. QTP organises THESPO, a youth theatre festival held in Bombay and Bangalore, and brings out SCRIPT, a monthly theatre e-newsletter. Quasar is also a director whose plays can regularly be seen in Bombay. He is currently the Assistant Director on the British Council produced Midsummer Night’s Dream project, directed by Tim Supple.

Ramachandran Director – Keli, Mumbai

Ramachandran is founder and Director of Keli, an organisation dedicated to the preservation and propagation of the traditional and classical art forms of India, Kerala in particular. Keli is now in its 20th year of activity, and has enjoyed years of collaboration with Prithvi Theatre. Ramchandran is also an independent documentary filmmaker – KAALAM, his debut film was on the art and life Appu Marar, a traditional percussion performer from Kerala. He has made “SIKHI”- a film on the role of women in Kudiyattam, ‘SAAMAM’- a film on the late Karnatic maestro M.D.Ramanathan, “Pranathi ‘on percussion performer Peruvanam Kuttan Marar.

S. Raghunandana Playwright/Translator/Director/ Stage Designer/Teacher – Sambandha

S. Raghunandana (born 1957): Kannada playwright, translator, stage director, stage designer, and teacher of stage acting, design and direction. BA , Bangalore University NSD Diploma and Fellow, Stage Direction (1981-82). Before and after studying at the NSD, was associated with Samudaya (1977-89). Abhinaya Prashikshaka at Nataka Karnataka Rangayana, Mysore (1989 – 2001). Guest faculty and stage director at NSD, Ninasam Theatre Institute, Ninasam Tirugata, Bharatendu Natya Akademy, Lucknow and School of Drama, Trichur, among other institutions. Has designed and directed major productions of plays by Bhasa, Shudraka, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, Samsa, Thoppil Bhasi, Omcheri Narayana Pillai, P.Lankesh, Sriranga, Shivarama Karanth, Pampa Mahakavi and G. P. Rajaratnam, M.R. Sreenivasmurthy, Siddalingiah, Brecht, Shakespeare, Chekov, Ibsen and Beckett, among others, and plays written by himself, as well as street plays, also all written by himself, for various radical movements such as Samudaya, Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad, Bharata Jana Vijnana Jatha, AITUC, and the National Literacy Mission. Has written the plays, ‘Etha Haaridhe Hamsa’, and ‘Sattavara Katheyalla’. Has adapted or translated, variously, plays by Odets, Brecht, Ibsen, Beckett, Euripides, Chekov, Bhasa, Ionesco and Kalidasa. Has published essays and papers on theatre in journals such as Theatre India and Humanscape in English, and in important Kannada journals such as Maatukathe and Deshakaala. Is, at the moment, a member of the Academic Council, National School of Drama. Is currently dedicated to the nurturing of Sambandha, a theatre company that seeks to do theatre professionally.

Sadanand Menon Writer/Critic/Photographer/Light Designer

Sadanand Menon writes on critical issues of politics and culture, makes photographs and creates light design for stage. He has practiced and taught radical alternatives in media, has edited interventionist journals, is deeply involved with the creation of a contemporary Indian dance, and has curated one major exhibition of visual arts. Presently visiting faculty at Asian School of Journalism, Chennai.

Sameera Iyengar | Co-Founder, Junoon, Mumbai

Sameera Iyengar is co-founder of Junoon, an organisation that aims to make theatre/arts an integral and powerful part of our everyday lives. In Junoon, she plays a key role in conceptualising and developing Junoon's programmes and capacity building efforts, as well as building the organisation. She is also currently Course Director of SMART (Strategic Management in the Art of Theatre), a unique course designed specifically for theatre groups in India, and offered under the aegis of the India Theatre Forum (ITF). Sameera was also a founding member of the ITF in 2006, and remained a core member till 2014. As part of her ITF contribution, she co-edited Our Stage:The Pleasures and Perils of Theatre Practice in India Today (Tulika 2009). Previous to Junoon, Sameera was Director Projects at Prithvi Theatre for close to a decade, and has also worked with the Seagull Theatre Quarterly. She has a PhD on theatre from the Department of South Asian Languages & Civilisations at the University of Chicago. She was bitten by the theatre bug however during her undergraduate years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), from where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BSc in Mathematics and a Minor in Theatre. Sameera believes that theatre and the arts open doors to imagination, understanding and living life with fullness, curiosity, empathy and sheer joy. She delights in sharing this experience and possibility with all people.

Samik Bandyopadhyay Editor/Scholar/Critic

Samik Bandyopadhyay is a leading editor, scholar, and critic of the arts. He is a member of the Academic Councils at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Vishwa Bharati, Santiniketan, visiting faculty at the annual Film Appreciation Course organized by the NFAI and FTII, Pune, and visiting lecturer at Ninasam’s annual Culture Course.

Sanjna Kapoor | Co-Founder, Junoon, Mumbai

Sanjna Kapoor is co-founder of Junoon, a social enterprise that aims to create platforms for theatre in India. Sanjna is well known for her passionate work with theatre over twenty-five years, and for having built Prithvi Theatre into one of India’s premier cultural hubs. She has also played a key role as catalyst for theatre for children. She currently spearheads Junoon’s school programme. Sanjna has also been responsible for initiating the India Theatre Forum network for theatre practitioners. Her current focus is working towards an all-India theatre alliance, based on a practical sharing of resources and ideas, as well as consolidating and strengthening theatre practice in India.

Santarao Journalist/Director – Praja Natya Mandali

Santarao is Vice President, Praja Natya Mandali, Andhra Pradesh. He directs plays and has a special interest in rural drama forms. He is also a journalist.

Sophia Stepf Director/Critic – Flinntheater (Kassel/Germany)

Sophia Stepf worked in German Theatre for 10 years and for the last 5 years she has earned her living through theatre, mostly as a dramaturge for international theatre festivals (Theatrer der Welt in Stuttgart, Vienna Festwochen) but also with producing her own work in hometown Kassel. The lack of funding for independent theatre companies there has led to a certain aesthetic and her to the verge of commercial theatre. She has worked in India for the Max Muller Bhavan and also written reviews and articles on Indian theatre for the German theatre magazines Theater Heute and Theater der Zeit.

Sudhanva Deshpande | Actor/Director/Writer/Publisher – Jana Natya Manch / Leftword Books, Delhi

Sudhanva Deshpande is an actor and director with Jana Natya Manch (Janam), a radical political theatre collective based in New Delhi. He has been involved in the creation of dozens of street, proscenium and other performances, and has lectured and led workshops in institutions across India, as well as in Palestine, South Africa, Germany, Poland, the US and UK. He has held teaching positions at the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) and the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi). He writes on theatre and politics, and has edited Theatre of the Streets: The Jana Natya Manch Experience (Janam 2007) and co-edited Our Stage: The Pleasures and Perils of Theatre Practice in India Today (Tulika 2009). He has co-directed two documentary films on Naya Theatre and Habib Tanvir (available from Magic Lantern Films). He is a member of the Core Team of the India Theatre Forum. Since 1999, he has headed LeftWord Books, an independent publishing house, as Managing Editor, as well as May Day Bookstore and Cafe since 2012. He was an Arthink South Asia (ATSA) Fellow for 2011-12, and has been involved in the conceptualisation, creation, administration and programming of Studio Safdar, Shadi Khampur.