Though the theatre scene is quite vibrant in Delhi University, one can also be part of independent theatre groups in the city. While most prefer to attach themselves them to college societies, some students do join groups.
“It is usually for television that students join professional groups. It is very big now, bigger than Indian film industry. Interest in theatre is actually going down,” said Sanjay Sujitabh, creative director, Barry John Acting Studio.
So while around 30 DU students still join the studio every three months, most do theatre only as a secondary option, that too not in Delhi. “Theatre is bigger in Mumbai than it is in Delhi. It has become more expensive to rent places and publicise. This is why theatre is still very popular in colleges,” he said.
But this has not stopped new groups from coming up. The Asmita Theatre Group, which was formed in 1993 by Arvind Gaur, has, since its inception, concentrated on socially and politically relevant subjects. “We do both stage and street plays. There is also an option of joining weekend theatre for working people,” said Arvind Gaur, founder and director, Asmita Theatre Group.
However, theatre as a profession does not grab many eyeballs among youth primarily due to its limited financial returns. “It’s true that it is a poorly paying profession. But India has the maximum number of theatre artists in the world,” said Gaur.
The Jan Natya Manch, a group founded in 1973, also continues to attract many socially aware artists. The group deals with issues like price rise, elections, communalism, unemployment, and globalisation. “Though I wanted to continue with theatre as a profession but I don’t want to struggle endlessly,” said Ketki, who has participated in many productions by the group.
Asmita Theatre Group: 9899650509
Barry John Acting Studio: 9810234267; 9716114477
Jan Natya Manch: www.jananatyamanch.org