Monday, February 14, 2005

Losing Theatres

The art of theatre has not been so good in recent times. Plays written in day-to-day world portray the true state of politics in this country in its own sarcastic way. The other subject which they portray is love. After all, what else is there. Since time immemorial, literature in this part of the world has been on two subjects, one being private life, which includes love, spouse and the other being public life, which includes politics, bravery.

Even theatre art in other parts of the world have also been on similar subjects only. Shakespeare was probably one of the leading writers in this kind of rather sensitive political subjects. In the era of monarchs, it was all the more difficult to openly criticize the ruler. Almost, all of his plays are just exact depictions of the social and political situation of his era though they are told differently. During a talk on King Lear, by Professor Manfred Stassen, this was highlighted very conclusively and convincingly. He had cited the exact correlation between the set-up of the society and the different charecters of the play which represent a particular sect of people in the society.

This evening, there was a screening of a movie at Alliance Franciase of Madras, "Shakespeare Wallah" directed by James Ivory starring Shashi Kapoor in the lead role. Released in 1965, the movie talks of the problems faced by a shakespearian travelling theatre group during the final days of the British Raj. It portrays the decline of the theatre art and the rise of cinema at the cost of the theatre art revolving around the british family which runs the theatre group. The Family is stationed at a particular place where the hero and his cousin(/wife?), who is a film herione also lives. The hero goes to the plays and gets attracted to the company owner's daughter. And then the familly feud and theatre party moving away to another place and the hero chasing and all that in true style. The movie ends with the daughter of the theatre owner sailing off to England. The movie clearly depicts the plight of theatre even in the 1940s when people came to plays with a movie mindset and had conversations, whistles and making all sorts of distractions which make it even more tough to present a play. The problems faced by theatre groups because of poor patronage and all the related stuff was rather truely depicted. It was worth the pains one had to take in deciding against a concert of a very senior musician close-by and travelling on a rather-small two wheeler across the city through the worst possible roads and strolling the vehicle on the road to avoid getting caught in traffic negotiating the longest set of oneway roads in the city. Still, thanks to the spree of messages on the mobile, one could have enjoyed it more.

To actually tell the actual fact, this art is presently looking a bit healthy after a rather long lagging phase. One cannot have another opinion on the fact that, it needs more practice and lot more of talent to present it live on stage than in any recorded media form. It also involves quite a lot of homework both for the people and setting up the stage for the performance. This great form of art has been on the back seat since the days of motion pictures and after the motion pictures started speaking and getting more and more lively, it has been getting a step-motherly attitude from the society. It is presently a hope that, the art would not die out and would stand tall in the test of time.

Very true da . Both tam and english theatre has no patrons even considering many actors start here before moving on to the b or k -olly wood.
true da. but i think as long as enthu are is possible to keep theater alive. there is certainly a definite audience for english theater. i cannot comment on regional theater. india has long had a rich history of theater starting from the days of kalidas(or even before). it would be sad if it were to die now.
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