Every child is born with an innate aptitude to theatrics and if spared of elders' sustained efforts to produce a self-conscious individual, will blossom into a fine actor par excellence. Basics of the theatre too teach the learner to reduce the self to smaller proportions than the role and also to expand the self to accommodate any role—something the children do day in and day out.
These intricacies of theatre, and much more, were shared by the former Director of National School of Drama (NSD) Ramgopal Bajaj at a conversation with Mohammed Ali Baig of the Qadir Ali Baig Foundation here on Saturday.
Prof. Bajaj, who has been campaigning for theatre in primary school curriculum, said each child was an actor by dint of imitating and translating himself into another form. Further training in histrionics will only connect the child with study of life.
Borrowing from a poem to describe the present state of theatre in one pithy line, Prof. Bajaj said: “When I said I'm a mirror, alas, how I am smashed!” Theatre provides live contact with audience unlike cinema, television and other media of entertainment being resorted to by people trained to be stage actors.
Those trained in NSD too are forced to change medium, as theatre hardly provides them livelihood, said Prof. Bajaj, who is well-versed with all departments of theatre, and cited the example of renowned film actor Anupam Kher.
“Unless theatre art is introduced at primary level of education, no point in having Ph.D.s in Drama… It should be taken up the way a child takes up music or dance for extra curricular activity,” he said while stressing that the democracy where theatre education did not thrive was not a democracy at all. He felt sure that violence in the society would come down if the art form was taught during early stages of human life.
The interactive session with the theme ‘Theatre: Academics and Practice' was organised as part of ‘Celebrating Theatre', the Foundation's initiative for theatre revival in Hyderabad, and attended by may theatre personalities and students.