QUEEN’S ROAD: With the city becoming an increasingly popular destination for theatre previews, short-term drama and film courses and workshops are finding more takers.
One of the earliest such initiatives is Bangalore Little Theatre’s (BLT) Summer Project on Theatre (SPOT) that has been creating artistes since the late 1980s, and some highly acclaimed end productions. Prakash Belawadi once participated in this three-month programme as did many other big names of theatre today like Mahesh Dattani, Arundhati and Jagadish Raja, Vinod Ravindran and Mallika Prasad.
But the project doesn’t aim to create stars. “The critical mass of lesser known people who have taken to theatre contributes to a quiet theatre movement,” says Vijay Padaki, who was inspired to start a theatre programme after he attended an intensive workshop by a New York artiste associated with the Stella Adler studio in the mid-1970s. “I am really proud of this un-named, unsung group. Many have gone on to hold high public offices, not engaging actively in the theatre, but supporting it in their own way.”
The focus of the course is not merely acting but theatre appreciation. “In course of time, we should be contributing to the emergence of a better informed audience in Bengaluru,” Padaki says. This year onwards, SPOT will be conducted twice a year.
Earlier, the course mainly saw a young crowd, but the demographics have changed over the years, says the moving spirit behind BLT. “The average age has gone up and we even have people in their fifties. In the announcement, we say the course is for anybody from 16 to 60! The gender ratio has been happily balanced over the years too.”
Ranga Shankara hosts an art appreciation workshop during its annual theatre festival in which around 60 people participate. “A lot of them are the IT-BT crowd who want to understand theatre and the arts better,” says its artistic director Surendranath.
Osage, an initiative co-founded by former journalist M K Shankar, conducts summer workshops for children that introduces them to various aspects of theatre. They are taught to create their own scripts, and the two-month-long workshop culminates in a few performances. “We want to crystallise it into a full-fledged course, but that could take some time,” Shankar says.
After the one-year acting diploma offered by National School of Drama (NSD) Bangalore took off, the short-term courses and workshops earlier conducted ceased. “But we want to start it once more — a sort of introductory course in theatre for beginners,” says director C Basavalingaiah. “There’s a lot of demand for it, and we have space at Gurunanak Bhavan.”
Centre for Film and Drama (CFD) looks at integrating both these media, a concept quite revolutionary when it took off in 2004. Currently it offers weekend courses of one to three months in English.
“Amateurs, mostly college students, get the opportunity to hone their skills,” says co-founder Prakash Belawadi.
“We offer courses in cinematography, script-writing and direction, and about 15 to 20 students opt for specialisation while 50 to 60 students opt for general courses.”
Full-term courses are likely to take off from December, he says.
Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy also conducts short-term weekend courses in filmmaking, around five or six times a year, with about 120 participants for each batch. “The medium of instruction is English. Anyone above 18 is welcome to join. We get quite a few students from Kolkata, Hyderabad and Kerala. We also have film appreciation courses,” joint secretary Murali P B says. Year-long diplomas in cinematography, direction and screenplay writing will commence in January 2016, he adds.
(With inputs from Neha Ghosh)