Although theatre has been one of the oldest forms of performance arts practised throughout India, it has managed to sink its claws deeper into some cities than the rest. Perhaps factors such as educational and cultural establishments, better funding resources and a stronger sense of community among patrons too could play a key role in making theatre in certain cities thrive much better than the rest.
Let’s look at the top five cities that are buzzing with an active theatre scene.
The theatre scene in Delhi is as vibrant and varied as the city’s culture itself. With the city being home to the National School of Drama and institutions such as Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts and LTG Auditorium that form a melting pot of arts and culture, it's only obvious that the theatre circuit in Delhi would be buzzing too. Theatre festivals such as Bharat Rang Mahotsav, Going Solo, Puppet Theatre Festival further add to Delhi's rich theatre scape. Some of the most popular theatre groups in Delhi are Actor Factor theatre company
, Asmita Theatre Group
, Pierrot's Troupe
, Mask Theatre Group
When the Portuguese gifted the island of Bombay to the British, the first thing to spring up in the city was theatre. Today, theatre has spread its wings everywhere in the city; there are about 1500 plays held each month in languages such as English, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati. Every now and then, you’ll even find plays in Kannada, Konkani and Telugu here. The iconic Prithvi Theatre has also contributed much to the city’s theatre culture and a thriving community of theatre loyalists. Q Theatre Productions
, Akvarious Productions
, Motley Theatre Group
, Rage Productions
, The Company Theatre
and Ansh Theatre Group
are some of the popular theatre groups from Mumbai.
Chennai’s theatre circuit is buzzing with young talent. Plays are staged in English as well as Tamil, and political satire, slapstick comedy, history and drama are some of the popular genres of the plays here. Venues like Alliance Francais, Goethe Institute and Museum Theatre have contributed to the theatre culture here as well. The city is also home to theatre festivals like Metroplus Theatre Festival, Live in August
, etc. Some of the groups that are helping take the scene forward in Chennai are Masquerade Youth Theatre
, The Madras Players
, Stray Factory
Theatre has been an integral part of Bangalore’s culture since the British Raj days. With the city becoming a hub for people from various walks of life, the heterogeneity has transcended into Bangalore’s theatre too. Jagriti Theatre and Ranga Shankara Theatre - Bangalore’s equivalent of Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre- envisioned by renowned thespian Arundhati Nag, have also played a key role over the years in building a vibrant theatre community in this city. Its annual theatre festival alone has seen over 2700 plays since its inception in 2004. Popular theatre companies from Bangalore include Artist’s Repertory Theatre (ART), Samudaya Theatre Company, Bangalore Little Theatre
, Playtonik Productions
, Misf!ts, etc.
Known as the city that brought out the Indian Renaissance, it is only obvious that the theatre life in Kolkata is one to watch out for. Kolkata is known for commercial theatre as well as group theatre, where the latter still aims to spread messages of social value. The old tradition of Jatra
theatre, four hour long folk theatre full of song, music and drama, is also still alive and active in Kolkata. Some of the notable theatre groups include Nandikar,
Little Theatre Group, Swapnasandhani, Mad About Drama
, Rangakarmee among others.
Of course, these cities are merely a tip of the iceberg! Think there are cities with an exciting theatre-scape that we should write about? Tell us!