Sanchaya, an amateur theatre group, is celebrating its 25th anniversary

25 years in the life of an amateur theatre group is no small time. More so, because an amateur group has to survive entirely on its own inner energy and commitment. If Sanchaya — set up in 1988, — is all set to celebrate its silver jubilee with the same vigour as it set out to celebrate its inauguration, it is a marker of its steady interest in theatre.

The dream of Sanchaya was entirely that of the late G.S. Ramarao, a teacher of MES School. Taking a band of talented students into the folds of his vision, The quiet Ramarao, laid the foundation of importance of good action in them. As the name itself suggests, Sanchaya, means “putting together” – and for Ramarao, it was not only a mere congregation of talent pool, but also an engagement with one’s community — in thought and action.

If Ramarao’s home was forever thronging with the young members of Sanchaya discussing politics to mathematics over endless cups of coffee, the group was equally fortunate to have the affection of the late C.G. Krishnaswamy (CGK) in its formative years. An acclaimed director and economics professor, CGK was anti-establishment but never lost his faith in the power of the community. He was constantly quarrelling with all things unjust, and gave everyone room to quarrel with his views as well. In a way, these two individuals, groomed Sanchaya.

Over the last 25 years, Sanchaya has staged around 45 plays, including many ambitious productions. Choosing from a range of playwrights, plays have been directed by Kannada directors of eminence. Krishnamurthy Kavathar’s Haavu Hokka Managalu and Andha Yuga, Iqbal Ahmed’s Sangya Balya, Suresh Anagalli’s Pratibimbagalu, Surendranath’s Bahumukhi, Shashidhar’s Bharigat’s Bara are some of them. Even though music and theatre has been the mainstay of Sanchaya, they have always been a constant source of support and help to others in the journey. Big or small, if fellow theatre groups have needed organisational assistance, friends of Sanchaya have always been willing. Be it Nataka Bengaluru, or Rangashankara’s theatre festival or a music festival, in thought and deed, Sanchaya is there in the spirit of its founders.

Sanchaya has grown in number as well. They’ve lost sturdy pillars like Bhanu Tirumale, and the doyen of children’s theatre Madhav Rao, but there has also been a cheerful addition of youngsters from different academic backgrounds. In a letter to Sanchaya on their silver jubilee, theatre director Suresh Anagalli says: “Organisationally and aesthetically Sanchaya is a unique group in Kannada theatre. The group is not worn down by a single leader, but is a conglomeration of enthusiastic and talented members. In memory of its guru, Sanchaya has lived on as a group without divides only because it lives the spirit of theatre sans pretence or posturing. To me, it is an important group that is striving for the significant new, quietly.”