You got played: Why does English theatre lag behind in India? - Hindustan Times
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You got played: Why does English theatre lag behind in India?

Apr 19, 2024 04:40 PM IST

We hum tunes in English, binge TV, spoken word acts and comedy in it. Why, pray tell, does theatre not have the same mass appeal?

All the world’s a stage? Then how come some stage events do better than others, even though they’re in English too? In the last few months alone, Indians booked early-bird tickets to gigs and music festivals, singing along to The Backstreet Boys, Halsey and Sting. But barely a fraction of those folks attended a play. Comedian Vir Das has sold out bigger concert halls than Indian playwrights tend to do. Spoken Fest claims to be Asia’s largest spoken-word gathering and packs out arenas in Delhi and Mumbai; theatre festivals, in comparison, fill far fewer seats.

Plays such as Dear Liar (starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah) have run to critical and public acclaim. (NCPA, HT Archives)
Plays such as Dear Liar (starring Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah) have run to critical and public acclaim. (NCPA, HT Archives)
Despite successes such as Hamlet, The Clown Prince, Indians pick stand-up comedy over a comic play. (NCPA, HT Archives)
Despite successes such as Hamlet, The Clown Prince, Indians pick stand-up comedy over a comic play. (NCPA, HT Archives)
Love and Information, Caryl Churchill’s 2012 play about the connections we make, is playing in Mumbai. (NCPA, HT Archives)
Love and Information, Caryl Churchill’s 2012 play about the connections we make, is playing in Mumbai. (NCPA, HT Archives)
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