I don’t claim to be an expert on this. Fact is, no one is. But I have spent 5 years making a living out of this and these are just my thoughts, gripes and irritations.
‘Theatre’ is a ‘play’ performed on stage in front of a paying audience.
Not necessarily. Theatre is an art form, which means it is a form of expression or communication. It is simply an artist trying to tell something and an audience listening :) Stand-up is a form of Theatre. Mime is a form of Theatre. A roadside Hanuman is a form of Theatre. You telling your friends a story at home or in a pub is a form of Theatre. It can be performed in rooftops, corporate stages, over your baby’s crib. I don’t believe Theatre has even one wall :) There is no room for purists in art. Chocolate pizza is yummy too :P
Theatre is a dying art form.
I hate it every single time when I read an article or watch an interview, where a ‘Theatre person’ gets asked, “Is Theatre dying?” or “Do you think there is a future for this art form?” or “How do you make a living off Theatre?”. I also hate it when ‘Theatre artists’ crib that they do not have sufficient infrastructure or when they boast of accomplishing things in an ‘impoverished industry’. Some artists have this thought that they only have to perform and recognition should come to them.
Theatre is a piece of creation, and like any product, has to be tagged with a price and sold. This is of course if you want to make a living off it. One of my favourite artists once said, “It is the Dharma of every artist to sell their Creation”. Only then you are reaching people. Only then you are communicating. Otherwise you are just saying things.
Theatre needs more funding / sponsorship.
Gone are the days of patrons. We don’t need it anymore. Of course it is great when people who love and appreciate art, invest in it. But it is currently such an open market, that anyone wanting to say anything can be heard. Start performing to friends and family. Start performing in your rooftops. Work hard and work ‘creatively’ and you WILL make a business out of it.
I can’t do Theatre. I’m not one of those ‘creative types’.
You are not doing Theatre, because you don’t want to. Period. Creativity is not something you need to be born with. The ownership you take over anything you do and the need to succeed, manifests itself creatively. To use a cliché, you can be creative at ‘writing software’. There CAN be creativity in Ctrl+C — Ctrl+V.
I can’t do Theatre. I can’t Act.
Firstly, acting and actors form 10% of the Theatre industry :) Rest is all Producers, Directors, Musicians, Choreographers, Art Directors, Costume Designers, Managers, Executives, Ushers, Back stage hands, Technical staff and a dozen other roles. You don’t HAVE to do Theatre. No one is holding a gun to your head. But if you do want to try it out, you can start anywhere. You just NEED to start.
You can’t make a living off Theatre
Can you make a living off Music? Yes. Can you make a living off Dance? Yes. Can you make a living off Visual Art? Yes. It is truly up to the artists and the artistic community to build an ecosystem for the art form they practise. Apart from practising it and reaching fame, fortune and glory, nurture the same in other souls :) I make a living off Theatre and I make as much money as many of my peers. Even more than some of them. And there is potential to make so much more, limited only by myself. This is of course because I’m currently part of a fraternity that gave me the opportunity and nurtured me. It is just like any other industry or business.
It’s World Theatre Day:
– If you are currently in the industry, give it your all. Do your Dharma in its entirety and to the best of your abilities. There are obstacles and difficulties in every industry :) Not only our own.
– If you want to try out Theatre, go for it. Try it out. See if it’s your thing. If you love it and it gives you immense satisfaction, boldly jump into it.
– Watch some Theatre. There are options for all tastes. Comedy, drama, political satire, whacky crazy …
– If you don’t want anything to do with Theatre, that’s totally OK too :)
PS. If only I could find someone who can give me Rs. 10 for every time I have used the word ‘Theatre’ in this blog :)