BENGALURU: While Bengaluru boasts world-class theatre scenes and venues, the artistes often struggle to find a place to practise and rehearse their performances.
Either the studios or spaces for rents fall heavy on budget or are unavailable if not pre-booked. Seeing the plight of the theatre artistes trying to rent out a decent space, Namma Metro lets the troupes use the basement of Trinity Metro Station as a temporary cultural space.
Good Lighting, Calmer Space
The 4,000 sq ft area basement was opened to be used as a cultural space about a year ago. Music jams used to take place, but the place was more suited for theatre, says Vasanth Rao, general manager of finance, Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).
“The place was too big for music, so theatre seemed ideal given that the lighting is also good. However, this is not for commercial use, only to be used for cultural purpose,” adds Vasanth.
Amid the hussle and bustle of Trinity Circle, the basement houses pin-drop silence. When theatre groups practise, they get to make the space their own.
Lights Off theatre production is currently using the space, rehearsing their play ‘Padagu’. The troupe met at Puducherry in July 2016 at a theatre workshop. They decided to conduct their rehearsals in Kerala. Vijay Kumar, one of the actors of the troupe, travelled fifteen days in August covering 4,000 km in the state to find a practice space.
“All of us are from different states and we thought that Kerala would be a great place for us to rehearse our show. From Alleppey to Alucard we continuously looked, sleeping in shelters and at bus stops. We either found a beautiful space to practise that was not affordable or affordable ones that were not enjoyable,” says Vijay.
Bar on Menstruating Women
They finally found a place, but had to leave because menstruating women were not allowed to enter.
The Kerala journey ended and they decided to come to Bengaluru as they had no other option, says Siddhanth Sundar, who runs the Lights Off production.
Around 11 of them found a place to practise in Koramangala in September which they say was a great facility but constrained in space and frequent interruptions.
Their performance includes a lot of aerial acrobatics movements, so they needed a bigger space. The team found their ideal rehearsal space at the basement of the Trinity Metro Station. After availing permission, they practised there and the play premiered at RBANMS Kala Ranga on March 4 and 5.
The basement has now graduated from having eight lights to eighteen and the floor has been painted to form a stage.
Ranjon Ghoshal and his group Forum Three, was the first theatre group to use the facility in September last year. The team of 35 rehearsed the musical ‘Schweyk in the Second World War’.
“I will not deny there are many theatre spaces to rent out in the city, but they have their own conditions. Recently a well-known art and cultural space was very unkind to us when we asked for the place. When we said the play was in English, they hesitated to give us the space,” says Ranjon.
Grateful to Metro
“We are so grateful to the Bangalore Metro for lending us this cultural space,” adds Ranjon.
The space was initially planned for storage by the BMRCL, but since it was lying vacant, they thought of lending it to cultural groups. The space can be rented out after receiving permission from the metro office at MG Road.
Like all cultural spaces, it is charged on an hourly basis. It costs Rs 400 and the basement can be used for five to six hours as opposed to Rs 5,000 a day that some premier cultural spaces cost. The facility enjoys uninterrupted sessions and one of the greatest perks according to Ranjon is that it is in the metro basement, which makes it easier for the troupe to commute to practice sessions and saves the time wasted over city traffic.