On World Theatre Day, the writer takes a look at platforms for intimate and experimental theatre performances.
Cultural centres such as Ravindra Kalakshetra, Ranga Shankara, Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Jagriti Theatre, Alliance Francaise, KH Kala Soudha and ADA Rangamandira are among Bangalore's most well-known spaces in which large-scale theatre productions are staged. But there have been other, smaller performance spaces in different, accessible pockets of the city, in which intimate theatre, experimental theatre and supper theatre performances are being staged with increasing regularity. MetroPlus profiles some of these spaces.
Rangasthala, Rangoli Metro Art Center, MG Road
Several plays, poetry readings and even puppet shows have been held at this comfortable 130-seater auditorium, since last year. Situated within the precincts of Rangoli Metro Art, Center, a cultural activity centre set up by Namma Metro (BMRCL), the space is easily accessible and draws an audience belonging to a cross-section of society.
Poile Sengupta's Mangalam, We Move Theatre's Magadi Days and this year's Short and Sweet Festival were among the many productions held at Rangasthala. "The space has been designed to stage different kinds of cultural activities," says Surekha, the curator of Rangasthala. "The stage is also good for puppet shows and shadow play performances. We essentially focus on promoting traditional art forms and theatre at Rangasthala,” says Surekha.
Yours Truly Creative Space, CMH Road
This intimate theatre space belongs to Nandini Rao and Ranji David, artistic directors of Yours Truly Theatre. The space was initially used only as a rehearsal space. "By 2011, we began doing shows of our own here. In 2012, we opened it out for other groups to perform. Plays by Sandbox Collective, Sarthak and Rafiki have been staged here," says Nandini. The space was aesthetically recreated by the actors of Yours Truly Theatre. "They painted the walls black, got the curtains done and even the lights," says Nandini.
Nandini and Ranji endeavour to make the space even more technically conducive for performances. "We have a bit of traffic noise coming in. So we are trying to raise funds to set up an air-conditioner, bring in some more furniture, re-vamp the lights and sound-proof the windows," says Nandini. The space has accommodated an audience from 50 to 75 people. "Our dream and vision is that the space be used more creatively," concludes Nandini.
Atta Galatta, Koramangala
This regional language bookstore, set up by Lakshmi Sankar and Subodh Sankar, also doubles up as a performance space, where a number of intimate and experimental theatre performances, including Aruna Ganesh Ram’s Re: Play, inspired by traditional Indian Games, and the Kamal Pruthi-directed hindi play, Aaine. Lakshmi says she has been amazed at innovative performances that have been presented at this space. “The audience is of a mixed crowd. There have been performances for families, for college students and for children. Once there was a storytelling session for children Night Night by Padmavathy Rao. The place was beautifully done up. It was a wonderful session,” recalls Lakshmi.
Lakshmi says that though large-scale productions cannot be held in this space, it can be used creatively. “That depends on the performers. It’s how well they experiment with the space.” Lakshmi and Sankar plan to “expand their horizons of how better the space can be used.”
Even though well-known as a performance space for music, Bflat has also been used for staging short plays. "When we were doing up Bflat, I remember telling my husband, this place would be great for stand-up comedy and experimental theatre," says Arati Rao of Bflat. Playwrights and directors approached Arati to stage intimate theatre performances. "The first edition of the Short and Sweet Festival was held here. Groups from Chennai and Mumbai have performed short plays too."