Without needing to talk about the acting greats the National School of Drama (NSD) has produced, one can still say a lot in the school’s favour. But it’s best to hear it from those who are experiencing its age-old traditions first-hand. Sunil Soni, a second-year student pursuing a specialisation in acting, says, “The environment here is unique. Work is of the foremost priority. The student-teacher relationship here is special — one that could be better described as one of mutual respect that comes from one artiste to another.”
And there’s a lot of work going on at all times. The day here could start as early as 7am and end as late as 3am, a schedule full of classes focussing on yoga, acting, direction, stage design, lighting and sound design, theatre theory, history and idealogies, movement, drawing, sketching, carpentry, among others, and rehearsals after the school’s normal schedule.
“What is amazing is that the environment is totally secure, despite all that one hears of Delhi. We are allowed total freedom while also maintaining a sense of discipline and fostering creativity,” says Bhasha Sumbli, a second-year acting specialisation student who hails from Jammu and Kashmir. Sumbli is an example of the diversity that the school espouses, and makes an effort to select students from as many states as possible every year.
USP: NSD’s long heritage has allowed it to nurture relationships with its alumni who, after making it big, have continued to come back to the school to contribute by holding workshops, talks etc.
Faculty: The college has a teaching staff of 16 people and a non-teaching staff of about 200 members.
Programmes: NSD offers a full-time, three-year diploma course in the dramatic arts to 26 students every year. This programme is compulsarily residential. Selection is rigorous and is held in two stages — a preliminary audition held in Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Guwahati, after which shortlisted candidated attend a five-day workshop at the New Delhi campus, which focuses on “the candidate’s attitude towards learning and participation in collective work”.
A short-term course on theatre appreciation is held yearly during May-June.
Infrastructure: The school has a sprawling campus in the heart of the Capital. It is a treat for creative minds, with lawns, open corridors — spaces that are fully utilised by students and faculty to practise the craft. Formal spaces abound, as well, with three performing spaces of varying capacities and six studios. A gymansium and yoga hall add to the fitness quotient of the students.
IT quotient: There are various computers available for student use across the campus, along with a lab with seven computers dedicated to research and for working on projects and assignments. The library is fully computerised and users can check for the availability of any book or journal using an online public access system.
Clubs and societies: NSD’s Sanskar Rang Toli, formerly known as Theatre in Education Company, consists of a group of actor-teachers working with and performing for children. The Repertory’s and other festivals include, Bharat Rang Mahotsav, which has grown into an international event, hosting theatre companies from around the world. The festival is the largest theatre festival of Asia. Other festivals include Jashnebachpan, showcasing works of different theatre groups working with and for children.
Studentspeak: “With an amazing environment for creativity and the equations that we share with our faculty, NSD is certainly the best place to explore one’s dramatic abilities,” says Bhasha Sumbli, a second-year student of acting.
In July 1958, the Asian Theatre Institute was taken over by the Sangeet Natak Akademi to meet the growing needs for developing a national theatre in the country. A year later, in April 1959, the National School of Drama came into being. At this time it was called The National School of Drama and Theatre Institute, the latter half of the name being dropped eventually. It was officially recognised in December 1975 under the erstwhile Ministry of Culture and Education, Department of Culture
“We have little left to desire because our faculty comprises seasoned artistes who can feel the need for whatever is required, most times before we realise it. We have more than what we could ask for and I can safely say we have the best campus and the best atmosphere for any institution is Delhi and beyond,” says Bhasha Sumbli, second year student of acting