Investing $1 Million In The Creative Sector Can Generate 99-111 Jobs: Sanjoy Roy

Key figures from the Indian theatre scene highlight the economic and cultural contributions of the creative sector

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In a recent discussion moderated by Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, key figures from the Indian theatre scene highlighted the economic and cultural contributions of the creative sector. Roy emphasised the sector's vital role and the discussion delved into the often-overlooked aspects of theatrical productions, such as the pivotal role of sound and the evolving nature of puppetry in India. Participants also addressed challenges, including the need to cultivate a stronger audience base, especially among younger generations and the evolving dynamics of stage performances, including the use of microphones.

Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts asserted, “I think the first thing is what is the contribution to this sector? For example, the contribution in the UK, which is mapped is 119 billion pounds which is 2.9 per cent of the UK’s GDP. Now, if you are looking at India, the estimate is that 400 million people are involved in the arts sector. In the case of a single state, namely Bengal, a report says that INR 33,064 crore is spent in Bengal during Durga puja, which is creating the murtis, pandas, doing the acting, music and prints.”

He emphasised the importance of the creative sector and the need to map the amount of money and jobs generated by the sector.

Roy added, “According to recent research, if you invest 1 million USD into the creative sector, you create 99 to 111 jobs and if you invest the same amount into blue-collar industries, you create nine to 11 jobs. If the need of the moment today in India is to create jobs, this is the sector you must look at.”

Sound and music are not seen. The people who design sound and light typically do it behind the stage and are very rarely acknowledged as being vital in a theatrical production.

Highlighting the importance of sound and the lack of it, Anirban Ghosh, Musician, Composer, Producer and Sound Designer highlighted, “It's like a heartbeat. You don't really feel it, but when it's not there, that's when you feel it. For me, sound in the theatrical context, it is something that works as a character on stage, adding to the larger narrative and storytelling that the actors or the director is trying to bring forth to the audiences. Sound adds that layer of emotion, that push you need to get to the story or get to the place where you want to go. For me, the most important thing is about what story are you trying to tell, the why of sound. Why are you using this sound versus that sound? Why use an orchestral score for a play versus using some experimental noises?”

He explained that sound must be in the core design of creating theatre sharing an instance where he went to the railway station and recorded the sharp, high-pitched, train-stopping sound.

Keeping with the theme of sound, talking about the projection of an actor’s voice and the recently popularised use of a microphone on stage theatre productions, Amitabh Srivastav, Actor, Director, Script and Screenplay Writer said, “Traditionally, an actor who uses a microphone was considered to be a weak actor and it used to be considered disrespectful for the artform. A close friend of mine, Suresh Bharadwaj who used to do lighting told me that if the stage lights that were used back in 70’s or 80’s, if those lights were used today, people wouldn’t be able to see the stage properly. Perhaps this is part of the evolution of the human body that now we need lighter and in turn more sound.”

Anurupa Roy, Puppeteer, Puppet designer, Director and Managing Trustee at Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust shed light on the evolution of puppetry, according to her, the number of organisations doing serious puppetry during the 90’s was limited to about two companies in Delhi and a few in West Bengal.

She said, “Contemporary puppetry was a very watered-down version of stuff copied from Europe or other Western regions. The catch was that nobody had those materials in India. The question of originality at the time was what the Indian contemporary language for puppetry was.”

The biggest challenge according to Roy became defining the contemporary language of Indian puppetry especially when it came to the designs of the puppets. The relationship between the puppet and the puppeteer is a complicated one as a puppeteer trains to disappear on stage, contrary to an actor who has to project themselves as larger than life on stage.

Talking about the importance of kids getting to experience a theatrical world and getting engaged in theatre, Sushma Seth, Indian Stage, Film and Television Actress mentioned, “Theatre has a lot of talent, we have excellent actors. playwrights, sound designers and more but what we lack is an audience. With the digital influence, we are further losing out on the audience. It is very important to introduce theatre in schools, for instance, we have intercollege competitions and student audiences and this creates a student audience that is used to the theatre format.”

Seth asserted, that theatre should be treated like any other school subject which should be graded and should have activities being conducted within the school hours. These shows produced within schools can then be taken to be performed at nearby schools.

Deepan Sivaraman. Theatre Director and Scenographer mentioned, “I see theatre as a hybrid form, which is, in a way, an amalgamation of various artistic expressions and design of the space. Conventionally. There is a perspective, that theatre is something where you have a text, you have a story to tell and that is primarily done through actors. The design is something where you create a space to support the actors and present the story. For me, Theatre is a form that you experience in the space and the process of creating that space is what we call Scenography. This space is not a space which is created in order to tell the story, but the space itself is a story.”



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