Salonee Sanghvi’s love for theatre began as a child when she watched musicals at St Andrews Auditorium, Bandra, with her family. “But then there was a vacuum,” says Sanghvi. “I couldn’t go for plays that often because I always had to beg someone to come with me.” Meeting people with the same problem led to Sanghvi, an equity analyst, creating It’s Showtime, a club for theatre lovers in Mumbai.
A club event is held once in every three weeks. Sanghvi selects a play for the members to attend based on intensive research. After shortlisting a few plays, she puts up a poll on the club’s Facebook group and leaves it to popular choice. After the play has been selected, she buys tickets in bulk for all the members who confirm their attendance. Apart from this regularly scheduled event, members often post about plays they’re going for with other members being free to tag along. Since the club is based on an online medium, Sanghvi prefers to err on the side of caution.
“If someone wants to join the club, they need to know an existing member,” she states. “Even though it’s Facebook, it’s still pretty anonymous so we like to have someone vouch for new members.” After the show, the members usually grab dinner or drinks. “We have around 15-30 people who turn up for an event,” says Sanghvi. “I don’t want to make the group too large because then people won’t really be able to interact with each other.”
Wildly passionate about the medium, Sanghvi is a firm proponent of theatre as an alternative medium of entertainment for the city’s denizens. “The age group the club currently attracts (23-45) has been through the whole going out and partying scene,” explains the 29 year-old. “They’re now looking for something more meaningful. Sadly, Mumbai doesn’t have too much to do. There are a few things coming up but the staple entertainment options are still dinner, a movie or clubbing. So going out as a group to watch plays is something they enjoy.”
Starting out as a place for theatre lovers to come together, Sanghvi didn’t foresee the club becoming so popular. “I hadn’t made any plans really,” she says. “Now I’m thinking of talking to the venues (the members largely frequent Prithvi, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) and The Comedy Store) to partner with them and have reserved rows for members.” Sponsored events don’t feature in her plans since plays are the priority. “We try to select the best plays to watch,” she explains. “But maybe we could also attend previews.”
With It’s Showtime, not only do people always have assured company for shows, but they can also dissect it after the play’s over. “Some performances create an impact, and everyone has different perspectives so it’s nice to discuss the piece with a group,” says Sanghvi. Apart from being perfect for anyone who enjoys theatre, Sanghvi believes that the club is also a good fit for someone who wants to try something new. “The magic of theatre is something that movies can’t replace. When you see such strong performers acting live without any takes, it’s a different experience altogether,” she signs off.