A still from the play, Lanka Lakshmi
The curtain falls to a thunderous applause.
The lights come on, but there is no scramble to get to the exit. People linger on, still mesmerised by the splendour of the show and the experience of watching a stellar performance on stage.
Yes, theatre is back in vogue in Kochi, successfully gratifying the appetite of a crowd fed on a diet of commercial films.
As we celebrate World Theatre Day today, Kochi is well-hooked to the idea of an evening out to watch a play. But amidst this euphoria, practical problems do pop up, like the unavailability of a venue with good acoustics.
Kochi is yet to get a performing centre like the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai or the Ranga Shankara in Bengaluru. But unlike the 90s, the city is waking up to a host of plays being staged in various centres — JTPac, Changampuzha Park, the Fine Arts Hall and so on.
Lanka Lakshmi and Hayavadhana were two plays that brought much acclaim when they were staged in the city this year.
“Kochi does not lack actors or scripts. What we need is a good space and a support system. Language is no issue now; many plays in English are staged here. But we have to build a theatre culture where people do not mind buying tickets to watch a play,” says Prof Chandradasan, director of Kochi-based theatre group, Lokadharmi that revolutionised the theatre scene in the state with a slew of path-breaking productions.
The Corporation has been sitting idle for years on a proposal to construct a performing centre in Pachalam, off Kochi, on a three-acre plot. Today, a major problem that is faced by theatre groups is the high rent charged by premium venues in Kochi.
Unlike in Bengaluru, where the Ranga Shankara can be booked for Rs 2,500 a performance, there is no such venue in Kochi.
“We should also have plays that deal with lighter themes, like the one based on the novel, Five Point Someone. The scene in Kochi is active now, but we still have a long way to go,” says Muthumani, who played Mandodhari in Lanka Lakshmi. Muthumani has been part of the theatre scene for over 10 years and sees a change in Kochi’s theatre scene over the last couple of years.
Interestingly, more youngsters are entering the acting profession, either through theatre clubs in schools or workshops during the holidays. But many find it difficult to stay on in this field.
“This is not an income-generating career, but we are all here because of our passion for theatre,” says actor Sandhaya Balasuma, one of the lead actors in Hayavadhana.
The city will be active with theatre workshops once the summer holidays begin next week. And a number of plays are scheduled to be staged here, giving Kochi’s evenings a whole new dimension
Courtesy Deccan Chronicle Kochi, 26 March 2011