‘Focus on the stage’
Nurturing university theatre is imperative for developing and professionalising theatre in India. This reasoning has inspired the University Ibsen Theatre Festival which precedes the Delhi Ibsen Festival, to be staged in December, after a gap of two years. An initiative by Dramatic Art and Design Academy (DADA), this university theatre festival blends Ibsen’s dramatic literature with actual productions. Giving details, Nissar Allana, festival director, Delhi Ibsen Festival and Director of Dramatic Art and Design Academy, says, “Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright whose works had a strong influence on Indian theatre till the 1960’s. Because his plays are essentially based on pure realism, they resonate with human sentiments and contexts on a universal plane defying time and demography. For the festival, students from participating colleges got an opportunity to research on different aspects of Ibsen’s work and create scripts which are adaptations of his original plays and characters. In short, this festival is an initiative to facilitate deeper insights into Ibsen’s work and its relevance with contemporary society. Exploring inherent interrelationships with cultures is another objective.”
Talking about the importance of reviving university theatre Allana says, “Lots of people in our country who dabble in amateur theatre have the potential to take theatre as a fullfledged career option. But many get deterred because they simply don’t know how to progress. University theatre is a link between amateur and professional theatre. Hence, developing uni- versity theatre is imperative in terms of developing a professional climate of theatre in India.” According to Allana, the festival is also aimed at training students in the logistics of theatre production. “They have been involved in planning the sets, costumes and light and sound acoustics. In fact, participating students have initiated blogs about the rehearsal process where they talk about these planning experiences.”
A pan-India university festival is on the anvil. “We want to influence a deeper approach to theatre study and encourage research and the institution of a master’s programme in theatre,” Allana concludes.