Inseparable part of Lucknow’s thespian identity, BNA losing its sheen for lack of renovation
The auditoriums of the academy, which have staged famous dramas of Indian and English playwrights, have not been given a makeover in more than 10 years.
LUCKNOW The venerable stages of Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts (also known as the Bhartendu Natya Akademi) have hosted magnificent acting talents -- including Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher -- since its establishment in 1975. However, the academy -- which is still considered an inseparable part of Lucknow’s thespian identity -- has been losing its sheen for lack of renovation.
The auditoriums of the academy, which have staged famous dramas of Indian and English playwrights, have not been given a makeover in more than 10 years, according to stage manager Jitendra Negi. “In the last few months, we have even reduced the number of productions in the halls... The seats, sound, and the light system and other amenities in the auditoriums have not been changed in over 10-12 years,” he added.
According to authorities, the facilities at the auditoriums have turned old and outdated. Its seats are rusted and squeaky while the lights and sound system malfunctions at times. Additionally, the stairs leading up to the stage at the BM Shah stadium are rickety and prone to giving in. Similarly, the stage curtains are in a poor shape as well, shared a staffer at the academy, which was established in honour of Hindi theatre stalwart Bhartendu Harishchandra.
However, the announcement of ₹10 crore for the renovation of the academy in the state Budget tabled earlier this year has rekindled hopes of the academy retracing its glory days. The fund is supposed to be released by the state department of culture in April. The money is to be used to restore the two auditoriums of the academy -- BM Shah Auditorium and the Thrust Theatre.
Besides in-house students, other drama groups also stage plays in these two auditoriums. These groups are charged ₹7,000 per day for 163-seater BM Shah auditorium. This fare increases to ₹9,000 per day on religious holidays. Meanwhile, the per day charge for 189-seater Thrust auditorium is ₹13,000 for normal days and ₹18,000 during religious holidays. Along with a studio theatre and two auditoriums, the academy also has regular classrooms and libraries.