Making room for the arts

Updated: Mar 09, 2019, 09:27 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Versova has a new address for performances, and it already has a packed calendar

Making room for the arts
A performance at the venue

In serving theatre, which lives on love and fresh air, many a venue has blossomed and withered away in the city. Yet, irrespective of its lifespan, each space has contributed to keeping the performing arts scene in Mumbai a vibrant one, and when the time comes, passing on the baton to worthy hands.

In a symbolic development, the cultural hub of Aram Nagar Part 2 in Versova, fresh from the news of Studio Tamaasha closing down last month, already has a new venue to boast of. With a soft launch in December, Veda Factory housed in bungalow number 120 of the quaint neighbourhood, is steadily coming into its own, if its packed calendar is anything to go by.

The cafeteria
The cafeteria

"I was not expecting this kind of a response since we haven't done any official promotions yet. But the word seems to have gotten around, and theatre companies are approaching us on their own," says Sampat Singh Rathore, entrepreneur and founder of the venue, who has been working towards the goal of a dedicated space for live performances for two years.

"I always used to hear from artiste friends about how getting a date at Prithvi Theatre entails a long wait, and I wanted to do something about it. At the same time, I didn't want to waver my focus from keeping such a space sustainable; it had to continue to exist and hopefully flourish in the long run," he explains.

The performance space has a back box theatre and theatre-style seating. Pic/Sameer Markande
The performance space has a back box theatre and theatre-style seating. Pic/Sameer Markande

The lack of space in Mumbai and the makeshift response to the perennial problem struck Rathore, an ex-Delhi University student who also runs audition studios, another facet that Aram Nagar is known for. "Most such studios are designed keeping the casting director's comfort in mind, while the actors languish in long queues in the heat and humidity. We tried to change that, and our studios are now helping us sustain our dream of keeping Veda Factory up and running," he elaborates on the business model, which many find hard to crack.

The bungalow has three audition studios, while the 900 sq-ft performance space has a separate entry, cafeteria and green room. "We plan to dedicate half the programming to theatre, and the rest to comedy, poetry, music and art-based workshops," he shares.

Sampat Singh Rathore
Sampat Singh Rathore

A theatre festival organised recently at the venue saw veteran actors Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak in attendance, while Rathore is also in talks with senior artiste KK Raina and Asmita Theatre group for staging shows. "With the kind of people that I am engaging with through Veda Factory, I have already recovered what I have put in, in spirit."

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