Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting theatrical

There were - and still are - very few professional theatre people in Chennai. For quite a few in the vernacular theatre circuit, it is a hobby; for others, it is a step to the screen, big or small. Tamil cinema has been fed by stage actors for about 60 of its 75 years - it is only over the past decade that its dependence on the stage has reduced. Also, very few of the actors, once they have a toehold in the movies, come back to the stage. With all that, the lure of the Tamil stage has been diminishing.

As for English theatre, it was always seen as elitist; although the Madras Players, through more than 50 years of their existence have produced several Indian works (translated into English, of course), English theatre is restricted to a small group of fans. The Players, being mainly non-professional theatre folk, have had only a few shows of each of their 200-odd productions. Other groups - Masquerade, Boardwalkers, Little Theatre, Stagefright - have had short lives, or largely hibernating ones.

About 5 years ago, a couple of graduates from MICA decided that Chennai offers the greatest market potential for high quality entertainment providers. Going off the beaten path of advertising / market-research jobs, they set up their event management company here. In the space of 5 years, their company, Evam Entertainment, has captured the imagination of the city with some remarkable marketing efforts. Some of the things Evam has done has brought theatre closer to the people: for example, a public announcement, like the one in the picture, for theatre workshop registrations was unheard of a few years ago. But now, it gives me a chance to go and try out my dramatic skills - and having done so, chances are that I'll go to watch Evam's productions for at least a couple of years, even if I'm booted out of the workshop!


5 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

Interesting to read your post today.

Abraham Lincoln
—Brookville, Ohio

Hilda said...

I wish Evam much luck — I think what they're doing is fantastic. Theater here in Manila is finally getting strong, with so many great theater groups. My husband and I try to watch as much as we can. And now we finally have one opera company! I haven't watched any of their performances yet, though, but I am looking forward to finally watching one this year.

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> Abe>> Very pleased to know that you come by every day - thank you!

>> Hilda>> Wish you luck - you will get to watch the opera soon!

Ravindran said...

Permit a small digression. I found the actors in serials act more naturally than others. Most of them are never camera conscious and dont speak into the camera.This always surprised me.Is it bcos they know that their reach is limited to a closed audience.

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> Ravindran>> You have me there! Though I don't watch too many serials, I can't see a significant difference from the movie actors...