A question of space

Sep 10, 2018, 06:05 IST | Fiona Fernandez

To combat insanely high rentals and a space crunch among venues, up and coming theatrewallahs in the city are finding new avenues to ensure their work sees the light of day

A question of space

Fiona FernandezA few days back, an acquaintance from Mumbai's (thankfully) burgeoning indie performing arts space, caught up with me. We chatted about all things theatre, where he announced that he was all set to introduce the city to his first production.

Naturally, we were happy with the news, and extended our congratulations to him and his team. After discussing the play, when we enquired about the venue, he replied that it would be staged in an auditorium of a reputable SoBo school.

As if to read our mind, he elaborated, "Rents are so high at all the city's major theatre venues, and this is our first major production. Hence, we decided to scout for a more practical space that would suit our budget and also be convenient for theatre buffs. So, when someone suggested this idea, we took it up and we are very happy with the outcome."

The space jam and corresponding sky-high rentals that the city faces, manifests its ugly self not just on the huge middle class population that pursues its 1 and 2 BHK dreams, but also on professions and industries that fight to survive - and if lucky - thrive in Bombay. People like the debutant theatrewallah are just one of the many players who must seek new solutions to exist and ensure their craft and territory stay alive in the rate race here.

It's always been a bittersweet love affair - one where either partner laments the other's existence in their life and yet cannot do without him or her. "It's a warm, intimate space. I do hope more such options spring up in the city and where educational institutions take a cue to open up their venues on weekends, at least," he suggested, before signing off and rushing back to rehearsals.

We hope so, too. Gone are the days when a few odd venues scattered across SoBo and the western suburbs sufficed for the city's performing arts aficionados. With promising talent and ideas popping up from every co-working space and college corridor, everyone wants a piece of the pie. And why not. Yet, and unfortunately, the city has not been able to offer too many options, as we have been seeing for a while now.

Especially in theatre, for the art house to survive alongside the mainstream and for the indie to thrive with the popular production, the city ought to throw up more solutions than challenges. Financiers, funders and business groups must show their support for the arts in every way possible - via sponsorships or venues. It will be the sign of a healthy cultural ecosystem.

There is a clear and present threat that faces this resilient industry that has given not just Bombay but also India some of its finest ambassadors. Not only must the city support them by applauding them in the audience, but we must ensure the curtains never come down on this young, exciting bunch waiting to spread their wings.

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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