COMMENT Artists and producers explain why the forum is necessary.

Koothapiran, veteran AIR and stage artist and recipient of Mylapore Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award says, “I am 80 years old. My association with drama is more than six decades. This involves 27 plays and 3,500 shows. Yes, applause is oxygen for us but we need money too, especially in these hard times. This association has been formed only to make drama artists financially secure.

Bombay Gnanam

“This is long overdue. Now artists and playwrights can fight for their rights. This organisation can go through drama scripts and select good ones. This will result in quality productions with messages. My latest Saswadham's 3D set cost me Rs.80,000; lights accounted for Rs. 25,000. With escalation in the cost of production, we cannot solely depend upon what Sabhas pay us. My ventures are zero-profit. And we don't get anything in terms of money. I can get a sponsor for my play but how many producers can do that? While Sabhas make good money during the December season should they not come forward to share a small portion of it with drama troupes to encourage them also? The number of shows has come down from 100 to 10 over the last few decades. Something has to be done about it.

Master Sridhar, who received M.A.'s R.S. Manohar Silver Rolling Trophy for best actor in mythological play Thirunavukkarasar says, “We want due recognition, give platform to talented producers and really good plays, those that create public awareness. Plays such as Harischandra and Krishna Bhakti transformed lives. Drama is nothing but thought, word and deed. It is the only medium where artists talk live without dubbing. A mythological play costs roughly Rs. 3 lakhs, nowhere near what sabhas offer us.

“It is imperative that all troupes come under one banner,” says K.R.S. Kumar, another other recipient of R.S. Manohar silver rolling trophy. “It was Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha, who offered concessions in transports system for drama troupes. But there are other problems. Government exhibitions do not book and exhibit plays at all. I have spent out of my pocket to stage ‘Thirunavukkarasar.'

According to Balasundaram, who received the YGP Silver Rolling Trophy, there is no space for rehearsals. “Iyal, Isai, Nataka Mandram used to fund for ten new plays every year. For the past five years it has been stopped,” he says. He staged ‘Tiruvalluvar,' ‘Narsimmhar' and ‘Sivasakti' none of which brought him dividends.

A few of the Association's objectives are:

To bring all the Tamil stage drama producers and troupes in Chennai under one roof

To represent to the State and Central Governments regarding the welfare of the drama producers, and troupes.

To get the recognition (for the Association) of the Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram, Sangeet Natak Akademi and other autonomous cultural bodies.

To get the assistance of the Railways, Airways and surface transport authorities, and various government departments

To get fair and reasonable remuneration.

To help producers and troupes with the launch of new plays…

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