Earlier this month, theatre goers were miffed with the postponement of the 32nd annual Prithvi Theatre Festival. But though the mainstay of the city’s theatre calendar has been pushed to February 2011, the month ends with a reason to rejoice.
Centrestage, the first theatre festival by National Centre for the Performing Art (NCPA) begins this Friday. Festival organiser and head of programming for Theatre and Film at NCPA, Deepa Gahlot, can’t say what took South Mumbai’s cultural hub so long. “In May, when I joined NCPA, I enquired why a cultural centre like NCPA didn’t have a festival of its own. It was waiting to happen, we just needed some direction,” she says.
The festival will premiere 12 new plays over ten days, covering genres from musicals to comedies. “NCPA theatres can accommodate over 1,000 people and can showcase the city’s enormous talent,” feels theatre personality, Delna Mody, who will stage her latest musical,
The Songs We Like
. Another highlight is the ‘non-verbal’ production by Natak Company called
, based on the invention of the wheel. “It is set in pre-historic times, so you’ll hear a lot of gibberish, instead of a known language,” says director Abhay Mahajan.
While November may become the busiest month for thespians, Gahlot is not fretting about a possible Prithvi-NCPA clash. “South Mumbai people don’t go to Juhu to watch plays, nor is it the other way round,” insists Gahlot. “The idea is to encourage new writing and provide a platform to regional theatre,” adds Gahlot, who started the first Marathi theatre festival in August. She plans to have a festival dedicated to Gujarati and Hindi plays next year. For now, Gahlot is happy to put together a show with plays and workshops for theatre enthusiasts. “We hope to make it a month-long celebration of theatre and bring international productions to Mumbai.”