Although Mumbai’s theatre scene has witnessed growth in terms of upcoming talent, the industry still faces problems when it comes to funding and expanding audience base. At a time like this, for The Company Theatre, formed in 1993, completing its 20th year in the circuit is no small feat. In the past two decades, the theatre group’s journey has seen vibrant performances, international collaborations and exploration of alternative performance spaces.
This week, in celebration of its successful run in the city, the group is putting up two of its best-known plays: Piya Behrupiya, an Indian adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, was recently staged at London’s famous Globe Theatre. The other is a parody of Michael Frayn play, Noises Off.
Ask director Atul Kumar about the changes he has witnessed in theatre in the last 20 years, and he says, “Most people ask this question fearing an answer that would be negative. On the contrary, things have changed for the better. There are a lot more people getting in to the field, lots who are studying it abroad and coming back to add and upgrade the quality of shows. Commerical theatre still gets more attention, but even experimental theatre has started to attract the audiences,” he says.
Having been part of many international tie-ups, Atul feels the major difference in the theatre scene is that abroad, there is strong support from the government. “A lot more money needs to be allocated to the promotion of arts and culture in the country.” he says.