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Stressing that the National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital was committed to opening three new centres across the country, besides doubling the duration of its one-year courses at its already existing regional centres in Bangalore, Varanasi and Sikkim, Suresh Sharma, Director-in-Charge, NSD told IANS that the school had already appealed to the Ministry of Culture for the same.
"This assumes paramount importance as people whose mother tongue is not Hindi should be imparted training in the language they plan to work in. Right now, students from across the country have to come to NSD in Delhi and first learn Hindi. There should be one centre that can cater to two-three states," Sharma said.
Besides this, the school also plans to start a one-year course in writing for theatre in Maharashtra. "In fact, as an experiment, we held a workshop in Pune that started last year in October," he said.
Sharma believes that these centres should not be 'regional' in essence, but in fact operate on the lines of IITs and IIMs.
"The idea is to have full-fledged schools on the lines of NSD in Delhi."
All set to organise the 11th-edition of Bal Sangam from November 9-12 at its premises, he said that theatre and folk performances are a great learning medium for exploring and sensitising children towards different contemporary issues.
"Such activities and festivals are a wonderful platform to not just perform, but learn, travel, and share. NSD believes that theatre makes a person sensitive towards issues and an active participant of society as it boosts powers of communication. Theatre brings in all these qualities and if children are introduced to this wonderful, they become better human beings," Sharma noted.
Talk to him about the fact that non-metros seldom get to witness quality theatre and he asserts, "Earlier, the Bharat Rang Mahotsav used to be organised only in Delhi and satellite towns. However, things changed from last year and the festival travelled across the country. In fact, this year too, we plan to take it to places like Dehradun, Nagpur, Jorhat and Tejpur. This holds true for 'Summer Theatre' too, which was restricted only to Delhi. Last year, shows were held at diverse places like Patna, Benaras, and Aurangabad."
Stating that NSD, wanted to take its activities beyond Delhi too as the capital and other metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, are quite active as far as theatre was concerned, he added, "It is in smaller towns that we need to get theatre to. We want to do that through workshops, shows, theatre festivals, technical training workshops in coming times."
Lamenting that corporate support for independent theatre was limited to a handful of groups doing commercial English work, Sharma, who has been active in the theatre scene for more than three decades now, asserted, "It's done as part of their CSR. Support needs to be given to groups who are doing excellent creative work and boast of a vision. The commercial ones can still survive tickets. The ones who really need support are the groups in smaller towns, doing. If they get, I am sure the condition of theatre in contemporary times will undergo a sea change."
With his next production, based on Jallianwala Bagh, Sharma plans go on a large canvas. "It may be staged at Ferozeshah Kotla and the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, if possible."