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Every ten years the theatre industry goes through a transformation- Ashvin Gidwani, AGP World

The theatre industry is a vibrant space in which trends, highlights and spotlights change every ten years. If you map the growth of the theatre industry you would notice that every ten years there are inroads into growth with talent and technique.

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The various theatre schools in India churn out talent and expertise that is varied and in congruence with the growing needs of the theatre industry. New talent would like to experiment and innovate and that’s just what they do, giving a boost to the sphere. The plays that are produced as a result exude freshness and vibrancy and drive the industry further onward.

Every ten years the theatre industry goes through a transformation. There are producers, directors, actors and technicians who evolve in their expertise with some level of experimentation. The theatre industry also evolves commercially with each production. NSD (National School of Drama) and their repertory bring fresh talent in performance, design, production values and host one of the most coveted festivals in the country. There are other theatre schools too that offer talent in the fields of writing, production, direction and performance. If one observes the theatrical space one will notice that Indian plays are getting more internationalised. There are Broadway-style theme performances, engaging theatre and shows that literally go abroad and attract a foreign audience.

Apart from NSD, other non-institutional organisations like Rangashankara in Bengaluru, Prithvi& NCPA in Mumbai and many more promote theatre across various genres and curate their festivals to create communities dedicated to new writing. Few producers and directors adapt the works of Shakespeare to Indian sensibilities that has now gained acceptance. International theatre has grown significantly in the country which has brought new ideas and inspiration to the theatre scene. Indian talent has been touring internationally for festivals, regional communities and when productions are supported by film stars. These are the rudimentary ideology which prevails but many productions are now taking the lead on distribution of good work in the diaspora space of integrating writing with local flavour i.e. the Monsoon Wedding, Bend it Like Beckham variety.

Theatre of this genre caters to the diaspora abroad and even a foreign audience. Directors are aiming big. Some Indian plays are seen going for world tours and thousands of seats are being booked for shows seeing at least a 70 per cent foreign audience turnout. The themes are experimental and cater to audiences looking for something Indian to binge on. There is definitely an audience for Indian plays abroad as shows are usually packed. India has talent to offer and may be in another ten years the country will be on the world map as an important entertainment destination.

Recently bigger productions have been venturing into India but the infrastructure is limited to support these initiatives which in turn escalate cost but Indians are very innovative in recreating the magic which results from an experience. The entertainment tax is another deterrent which doesn't justify the ROI but corporate sponsorship is the route which ensures smooth transition to deliver a successful show in attendance and profitability. The other concern is the lack of professionalism of organisations who produce theatre and events as this has sent mixed signals internationally and many groups fear the method of doing business in India but we are slowly changing that by building confidence and relationships by building bridges under our formula "cultures unite".

Our rich cultural heritage can only do justice by integrating with international talents and art. Collaboration and alliances are the key. We are identifying the right partners across geographies to get best results through being powered up due to each other’s strengths and achieve economies of scale. Producing work in other countries helps give further traction as it’s home grown and everyone is proud of their talent. Choosing talent is a difficult one and we base our valuation on the skill, attitude and the person we are dealing with. Further scouting for talent that the market can demand is still another feat. Keeping the relationship firmly contracted is important in drawing parameters and ensuring a long-term delivery on the investment.

Looking at the future, we are very optimistic about the Indian market. The global desi is now a respected client with an insatiable appetite for the absolute best – be it cars, lifestyle or entertainment. We are constantly bettering ourselves keeping abreast with the international entertainment scenario and having friends in our associates helps this process.

Bollywood is already popular abroad. And Indian theatre is not far behind.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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