Open air theatre at Virsa Vihar, foundation stone of which was laid by the then local bodies minister, Manoranjan Kalia, Jalandhar central MLA, in 2009, is still waiting for someone to instill life into it. It is reported that since its inception six years ago, not even a single play has been performed at the theatre. However, a fashion show along with some other event was held here once.
An area of 100x100 sq ft had been allotted for the theatre. Apart from that, one stage and two green rooms were built with the grant of `15 lakh from Naresh Gujral, Rajya Sabha MP, while Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa had given `1 lakh.
The theatre was inaugurated with the motive to encourage theatre activities and theatre artists in the district, but with no play in the record of open air theatre, it looks like an abandoned place.
Harish, a budding theatre artist, said, "Since 2010, I have not noticed any activity.
Artists need to rehearse before performance, but there is nothing for us. Open air theatre does not mean that you do not need anything to rehearse. Being a government's property, they must prompt us to take part in theatre activities by organising plays, dramas. Virsa Vihar theatre now is limited only for art exhibitions and it does nothing for theatre activities."
"The theatre lacks sound and lightening system," said another artist.
Ankur Sharma, director, YUVAA, said, "Nothing has been done to encourage theatre activities. In the absence of facilities, we have also not performed here. Virsa Vihar in Amritsar has set an example. Here no major play or event has ever been organised. They might have made attempt, but the effect was not far reaching."
"I want the theatre to develop in the district so that we do not need to look to other cities to perform," said Sharma, who was a fellow at Yale School of Drama in US.
Channi Takulia, office secretary of Virsa Vihar, with whose effort, the open air theatre was made, said, "I used to watch plays in Delhi Bal Bhawan. So I thought of establishing the same thing in Jalandhar as well. But it is true that it lacks facilities. There is no seating arrangement for the audience. Moreover, people sometimes come here to practice, but they do not perform here. We ask them to give money if they only want to practice, but this is not acceptable to them."
It must be mentioned that there is a lot of scope for theatre activities in Jalandhar as the city has AIR and Doordarshan, but in the absence of will on the part of the administration, the city is lacking behind.