Art & Culture

The Return of Theatre

What comes to your mind instantly, when the word “theatre” is mentioned? Most of you will probably visualize a stage on which a couple of actors are performing, a play perhaps. Some of you may also picture a few spotlights, a huge overhanging curtain and an auditorium full of audience. That’s what theatre means to a layman. But theatre in its entirety means much more than that.
|| Dheeraj Kale

Theatre involves various artistes such as actors, comedians, musicians, singers, dancers etc. performing in coordination to present a theatrical performance based on fictitious or real life events, stories or any other creative form on a stage before a live audience. A theatrical can vary based on different forms of acts or presentations involving a fine art such as Ballet, Circus, Dance, Magic Show, Opera, Puppetry, Ventriloquism etc. A performance can be classified into various sub-types such as drama, comedy, tragedy, musical etc.

Research based on historical evidences established that theatre originated around 6th century BC in Greece. It was called Théatron, a Greek word which means ‘a place for viewing’. But, if we go back in time, archeological findings show primitive men wearing animal costumes or masks, which quite possibly mean that they portrayed those animals at social rituals or religious ceremonies. People from ancient tribes often sang and danced to celebrate a big hunt or to please their deities. Their performances could be a reenactment of their hunting travails wherein those dressed as animals acted as prey whereas others from the tribe played the part of hunters. Similar to present day theatre where performances reflect societal issues, their performances were also a reflection of their life’s tribulations and that could be called the birth of Theatre Art in its true sense.

Actor Paresh Rawal

Theatre, for many, may be an obsolete form of art which is gradually being dragged towards the edge of extinction on the stage of entertainment. But can this really be true? We cannot ignore the fact that brilliant Indian actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Irfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Kapur and many others were eminent theatre personalities before they made it big in the Hindi film industry and became household names.

It appears as if technological advancements in creative art and entertainment have been pushing theatre towards oblivion. However, that is not the case. No matter how much technology influences or enhances the experience of entertainment yet it cannot eliminate theatre. In fact, Theatre has not remained impervious to technology. It is utilizing technology to undergo a makeover. Let us take for instance, a technologically advanced form of theatre under our very own nose in Gurgaon: Kingdom of Dreams. Kingdom of Dreams is a contemporary form of theatre, which uses technology to not only support and better the performances of the artistes but also presents an impressive and extravagant theatrical experience. An innovative combination of 3D image projection, audio-visual effects, lighting techniques and hi-tech equipment involving hydraulics for lifting artistes and heavy equipment up in the air portrays a magical world, leaving the viewers spellbound. Technology in this case is not a threat but a promoter of Theatre art.

Image Courtesy/The Theatre Times

But that also doesn’t mean that theatre depends upon technology to sustain or thrive. In fact, traditional theatre art is gaining popularity now-a-days. It has a select audience, which may be limited in number but with an intellectual and contemplative frame of mind. There is no denying the fact that cinema today has a wider and diverse target audience. The experience of watching a movie on a multiplex is one of the most sought after entertainment options for the urban crowd. But if theatre is given equal emphasis in terms of facilities and platforms, it could certainly be at par with cinema. Kamani auditorium, Siri Fort auditorium, FICCI auditorium, Aga Khan Hall, Shri Ram Centre, India Habitat Centre etc. are amongst some of the most popular auditoriums in the capital which host plays and other theatre performances regularly. The Epicentre hall in Gurgaon is a recent addition, which has been successfully hosting a variety of plays, dramas and comedy shows drawing hordes of theatre lovers from Delhi and NCR.

Theatre has come of age. It is in its transitional phase and it is evolving and grooming itself. The day is not far when besides the intellectual lot, the man on the street will also understand and appreciate this fine art in its most natural & powerful form that is Theatre.

Theatre, for many, may be an obsolete form of fine art which is gradually being dragged towards the edge of extinction on the stage of entertainment. But can this really be true?

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