“I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being”. Most will agree to Oscar Wilde’s statement, but for The Company Theatre that has been around for two decades, and is set to celebrate the same with a showcase of two of their plays, Noises Off and Piya Behrupiya, these words evoke stronger sentiments.
The Company Theatre was established in 1993 in New Delhi and after a very successful run of its theatre performances all over India and abroad, it shifted base to Mumbai, 15 years ago. The Chairs, Blue Mug, Creeps, Lady with Lapdog and Unselfed are other notable plays that The Company is associated with. “When we began, we would rehearse for three to four months for each production and do only four or five shows of each play, since the audience strength was only that much. Often we’ve done shows where people on stage were more than the audience,” reminisces Atul Kumar, the artistic director.
Kumar speaks of the struggle that was enjoyable, passionate and sheer madness, when actors and directors had to do everything themselves. “As an actor I would learn lines early morning; then go around begging for money; meet the set guy to get one made; visit the printing press to design the poster; and after all this, arrive 15 minutes late for rehearsals; and incur the anger of the director, experience a depressing rehearsal and still feel on top of the world,” he relates.
So why a festival with only two plays, we ask? “These are the only two plays alive of The Company Theatre at the moment.” Looking forward, The Company Theatre is ready for new productions: Midsummmer Night’s Dream, Haroun and the Legend Of Heer among others.