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education Updated: Nov 03, 2011 16:35 IST

The lowdown
A theatre artiste is a person who works with one or more theatre groups as a professional actor. Anyone who helps or supports in the conceptualising, rehearsing or enacting of plays can be referred to as a theatre artiste. Though there might not be much money in the business for those just starting out, you can do well if you manage to earn a name for yourself. Film actors Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah and Shabana Azmi are some actors who have done well on the sage too. Formal training is an added advantage For talented artistes. You learn a lot when you are involved in churning out a great performance. If you’re bitten by the acting bug and money is not a major issue. A good voice, commanding stage presence and good diction are musts

If a play is scheduled for the evening, your day would be something like this.
9am: Reach the venue. Rehearse
11am: Work on changes
1pm: Share feedback with colleagues over lunch
2pm: Rest
4pm: Final rehearsals in costumes at the main venue
6pm: Show begins

The payoff
In Hindi theatre, making money could be a bit of a struggle for an artiste. You can earn by organising theatre workshops, that too, only if you are an experienced professional.

“If you’re lucky, you might get a break in TV or a film, which are, undoubtedly, well-paying. English, Marathi and Gujarati theatre artistes are quite popular and one can learn a lot participating in workshops and plays conducted and staged by them,” says Arvind Gaur, who heads the Delhi-based Asmita Theatre Group. One can get anywhere between Rs5000 per show and Rs15,000 per show, depending on the scale at which it is organised. Many make loads of money, especially in case of commercial theatre. Another source of earning is through theatre workshops in schools or college to sensitise youngsters about this art form

* Exceptional acting talent. Mere passion doesn’t work here
* Loads of patience
* Team spirit. Every stage performance is a team effort
* Ability to rehearse for long hours
* One needs to be energetic and entrepreneurial
* One needs to work for oneself, be imaginative and be ready to choose a life of risk

“You must have the spirit of a warrior to be able to sustain yourself in this medium. You ought to have faith and conviction and should be able to carve a business model in order to attract sponsors,” says noted artiste Lushin Dubey

Getting there
Attend theatre workshops organised by groups such as, Asmita Theatre Group in Delhi, from time to time. They usually hold workshops when schools and colleges are shut.

You can also attend short-term courses run by these groups.

Alternatively, you can join an amateur group to learn the ropes of theatre. Once you are familiar with the art form, you can join a professional group, subject to your acting abilities.

You can also join the National School of Drama, which offers a professional diploma equivalent to a postgraduate degree in dramatics. To be eligible for this, you must have spent a couple of years on-stage at the school and college level

Institutes and URLs
* Three-year postgraduate diploma in dramatics at the National School of Drama, New Delhi
* Two-month acting workshop by Natsamrat Theatre Group, New Delhi
* Workshops organised by Asmita Theatre Group, New Delhi

Pros and cons
* Gets you fame, especially if you get to enact a lead role
* Money is not comparable to films

The feeling of performing live is different. Once you take up theatre, you will always go back to it because it’s so satisfying Ira Dubey, theatre and Bollywood actor