Shhh... NCPA invites youngsters in, throws open ‘secret garden’ for gigs
Walk into Gate Number 3 and neon lights will guide you through a secret passage, to a 5,000-sq-ft lawn lit by LED lights and lined with palm trees. If none of this sounds like the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), that’s the point.
Starting today, NCPA is inviting youngsters in, to lounge on the lawns of The Secret Garden and listen to indie bands and stand-up acts over beer and sandwiches.
“We want to show that we’re open to experimenting,” says Farrahnaz Irani, general manager for international music. “Our walls are not too high and we can be informal.”
The lawn venue has been two months in the making; it was an unused patch of overgrown land off limits even to most of the staff. The entrance still has a ‘Danger’ sign from earlier, says Irani, laughing, but now that seems to work to our advantage and add to the element of mystery.
The first gig here will be a performance by the indie band Marshall and The Mischief, featuring R&B singer Ambika Nayak.
There will be food and alcohol available, just a sprinkling of chairs so that guests can make themselves comfortable anywhere on the ground. And a unique highlight — a terrace smoking area up a flight of stairs, with a spectacular view of the Arabian Sea.
“We are going to limit the number of guests to 100 and cap ticket prices at Rs 1,000, so that the essence of the space isn’t lost,” says Irani.
Already, she adds, people have been calling to ask if there’s really a secret garden being opened up at the NCPA. “We’re so excited to be performing here that we’re actually planning to test out a couple of new songs at the gig, along with a selection of covers,” says Marshall and The Mischief vocalist Yohan Marshall, 28.
Colaba resident Arshad Kurwa, 31, a sales executive and lifelong NCPA goer, says he’s eager to see what the hush-hush new venue is all about. “I’ve been going there for decades and I have no clue which garden this is, so this is all very intriguing,” he adds. “I am also really looking forward to an open-air show, because I feel we don’t have enough of those in the city.”