Madhya Pradesh’s regional theatre didn’t get the status it deserved despite having Bharat Bhawan and MP School of Drama — established to promote and conserve regional and folk theatre and arts.
Three years since the establishment of MP School of Drama, it has only produced three regional plays, triggering a debate among theatre critics if enough has been done to promote and conserve the regional arts.
Sumer Singh is a known figure in 'Turra-Kaligi', a dying art which may become extinct if his family members opt for some other job. However, Singh doesn't want his children to take up 'Turra-Kaligi'. When asked why he doesn't want to pass the heritage to the next generation, Singh says, "I don't want them to face the same fate as mine and get treated like second-grade artistes. It's better to leave it and earn livelihood from other means."
"All the cultural belts in MP have their own distinct art forms, dialect and culture, however, no efforts have been made by the government to preserve and document them. We are killing our regional arts," says Bhooshan Bhatt, a theatre music director.
"One does not expect anything from Bharat Bhawan as it is almost a dead institution. But even MP School of Drama proved to be of little help for the regional theatre," says a theatre critic, pleading anonymity. But director of MP School of Drama chooses to differ.
"We go to different regions and communicate with the locals to understand their folk and traditional art forms etc, so as to preserve the regional theatre. After imbibing their regional essence, our faculty along with the students prepare plays and perform in their area," says Sanjay Upadhyay, director of MP School of Drama.
However, the very fact that the school — which was set up to revive regional theatre — has come up with only three plays since its establishment, raises serious questions over sincerity of its efforts.