S Gowri, III Year B.A. English
Is ‘Theatre’, as a genre, respected in the city? S Gowri explores the potential of this field with regard to the scenario in Chennai.
Theatre as a dynamic career option is now being explored as many resort to this field for its flexibility. Many students and professionals deviate to take up theatre as a serious career option owing to the room it provides for creative thinking and implementation of bizarre and outlandish ideas. Theatre explores an individual’s creative senses and urges him/her to portray them on stage devoid of any masquerades, which explains the large scale migration of the working crowd to this particular field.
The Chennai audience, with their universally acknowledged receptivity, especially of any culturally rich art form, have almost accepted theatre as a well defined choice of entertainment as well as a career option these days. Rochana Mohan, a theatre enthusiast who is also a stand up comedian said, “The theatre audience in Chennai is a very open and accepting audience. The audience response for the college play which I was a part of was overwhelming which in turn gave the performers a very positive energy while performing.”
Theatre groups like Evam, The Little Theatre, Crea Shakthi, Madras Players, Stray Factory and so on dominate the theatre front in the city and each of these groups have their unique selling point concerning their performances. Evam calls itself a thriving arts company which makes people believe in the ‘power of arts’.
The Little Theatre came to the forefront in May 1991 and is by far one of the most unique non-profit theatre companies predominantly focussing on children’s theatre and formed shape following the thought that the education system was too stressful for the youngsters who deserved a space for nurturing their creative talents. The brainchild of Aysha Rau, The Little Theatre their annual Christmas pantomimes are much talked off in the city which are led by the group’s artistic director Krishnakumar Balasubramanian (KK). They bank on the inclusive quality of arts and produce theatre at its highest level of ‘artistic excellence’ by bridging cultures and diverse communities.
The Madras Players is the oldest theatre group in India which started off as a group of young theatre enthusiasts who were members of a play reading group established by the British Council in order to promote English language theatre. Their early attempts were with Shakespearean and classic American and British play but have now steered towards contemporary theatre as well. Their recent production ‘Chudamani’, which was staged in September in the city, earned much appreciation for its brilliant screenplay which was based on the much celebrated Tamil writer Chudamani’s short stories.
Crea–Shakthi took shape in 2012, as 7 friends from different professional backgrounds came together to escalate the importance of theatre within the city. This collective passion evolved the group into a recognised theatre institute in less than 2 years which operates a repertory theatre production company and theatre training centres of international standards. The directors of Crea-Shakthi has worked with the stalwarts in the industry like Mahesh Dattani, and have now started concentrating more on Tamil theatre along with their usual production of English plays.
Chennai as a city surely shows vehement interest in different art forms and is never hesitant to accept new ideas. This very attitude of the city crowd is what amplifies the chances for this field to grow.
[Photograph Source: creashakthi.com]