BENGALURU: I actively got involved in theatre in 2004, which required me to travel an average of 15 km from home in Basaveshwar Nagar to the venue. My area wasn’t known for any sort of culture or theatre activities, and hailing from a middle class family, I didn’t have a vehicle to travel nor did I have the luxury to spend on autos. So my only option was taking a bus which meant I couldn’t always make it on time.
It was during these times that I wondered why the concept of community theatre didn’t exist in Bengaluru. Why is it that art is centralised? Is that the reason we don’t have art happening in every nook and corner of the city? Today, as artistes are struggling during this pandemic, I feel community theatre or locality theatre is the perfect solution for the fraternity to recoup and continue performing.
In 2017, I was on a tour to France and Germany where I found this concept prevalent and booming. Imagine replicating it here with every locality having a space equipped with basic requirements where art can flourish. These spaces need to be developed by the city’s local body, which can be either maintained by the local committee under the purview of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). In times like the lockdown and social distancing, those in the green zone could have at least witnessed theatre at their doorstep. This would have helped theatre artistes too, both in terms of gaining visibility as well as helped performers financially.
Solution: Community theatre is the way ahead for Bengaluru. However, the infrastructure needs to be provided. Nowadays, every area has a children’s park, with many of them having a yoga kendra built by BBMP. This kendras should be restructured and remodelled to small intimate spaces with minimum light fixtures where performances can take place.
This implementation requires just a little will power, thought process and change from both the government and artistes. A few new spaces can easily be built and it doesn’t involve too much construction. Once built, it could become a space for children’s theatre, workshops and shows. Theatre can really grow by leaps and bounds, and will ensure an enriched life for both the viewer and performer.