Tagore Theatre at Vazhuthacaud will be back in business as Rabindra Bhavan by mid-December after undergoing a major renovation.
The quaint building, built during the first half of 1960s in connection with the centenary celebrations of the national poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, was closed for renovation from 2011. After initial flip-flops on the plan of execution, work to renovate the theatre commenced in June.
“Work is progressing fast and 10 teams are working round-the-clock to complete the renovation of the theatre. We plan to open the fully air-conditioned theatre by December 15 and take up the remaining works next year,” says an official with Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation Ltd., which is the nodal agency for the project.
The plan to modernise the theatre was mooted by the Left Democratic Front government during the end of its tenure. As the work was about to commence in 2011, the Union Ministry of Cultural Affairs announced its decision to allocate Rs. 50 crore to State governments in connection with the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Tagore.
“We had to rework the entire master plan to avail ourselves of the financial aid announced by the Centre. Accordingly, the revised plan was submitted to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and it has given in-principle agreement for the project. The project will cost Rs.42 crore, of which 60 per cent will come as grant from the Union government,” he says.
In February this year, the State government gave administrative sanction to utilise its own fund till the Centre chips in with its share. The State government had sanctioned Rs. 23 crore and already Rs. 5 crore had been released for executing the project, he says.
The Australia-based designer Kelvin Ashby King has designed the stage. As per his plan, the stage would be rearranged with modern amenities, including electrical control system, top-notch audiovisual equipment, acoustic panels, mood lighting and drop sheets. With wider seats and two cross passages linking the aisles, the seating capacity will go down to 970 from the earlier 1,150.
The plan also includes a performance theatre to showcase the ideals and contributions of Tagore, a mini theatre, a gallery for paintings, sculptures, handicrafts and books, an open theatre for staging plays and art forms, an audio and video production centre and archive, says S. Sasi Kumar of the private consultancy involved in preparing the plan and design.
A performing art block, having three floors, will come up on the south side of the main theatre. The plan also involves landscaping of the grounds, retaining the trees within the five-acre campus, a two-tier parking lot, a water fountain, paved footpaths and a compound wall with art works.