Since the summer of 2006, a number of theatre practitioners, scholars and theatre lovers have come together under the aegis of the India Theatre Forum (ITF) to try and create a national resource for theatre and a meeting ground for all those who wish to take on the public responsibility of laying the grounds for excellence and diversity in theatrical endeavour. The ITF is a Prithvi Theatre initiative, and is more or less a loose association of people who have come together in the larger interest of Indian theatre. There is a team at the heart of it which gets called the ‘core team’, which currently consists of Akshara K.V., Moloyashree Hashmi, Pravin K.P., Sameera Iyengar, Sanjna Kapoor and Sudhanva Deshpande.
Theatre practice and livelihood in India is unsurprisingly like the country itself – vast, diverse, and often unconnected and unaware of each other’s existence. Much theatre practice is also used to subsisting on meagre resources – which means theatre somehow manages to survive rather than thrive in this country. It also means our dreams for what we can do with theatre – artistically and socially – are invariably limited dreams. We neither strive to imagine our utmost potential nor do we see ourselves as important enough actors in this country’s social fabric.
Of course, there are exceptions – people who have thought deeply, believed in the potential of theatre, and shown it consistently in their work. People who have found innovative ways of stepping beyond the struggle of survival and created vibrant theatre communities of performers, audiences and supporters.
The question that led to the creation of the ITF was: can this happenstance become the norm? Can we overcome what we see as limitations, can we learn to identify and recognize opportunities and openings, can we think in terms of long-term growth and sustenance? Such work cannot be done in isolation, but requires the coming together of dedicated and experienced people who have an abiding interest in the field of theatre, and who represent the diverse knowledge and experience base of theatre in this country. It requires the constant exchange of ideas and information, as well as intensive and open debate and discussion.
Our Stage: Pleasures and Perils of Theatre Practice in India