February 11, 2018
1 year

What is the issue?

  • Starting in Greece in 1995, Theatre Olympics fest has since been held across the world every few years since 1995.
  • The 2018 edition will be hosted by India (the first time in the country) and Preparations for the same are on in full swing.

What is Theatre Olympics?

  • Greek theatre director ‘Theodoros Terzopoulos’ conceptualised Theatre Olympics and it was held for the first time in Delphi, Greece.
  • The idea was to gather the best theatre practitioners from around the world and create a forum for exchange — of ideas, cultures, forms and practices.
  • It was also to be another kind of exchange, between eras, trying to find a continuum between the past, present and future of theatre.
  • The current edition in India is being organised by the National School for Drama (NSD), which is an autonomous body under the ministry of culture.
  • This event will see numerous Indian and foreign drama troops performing across multiple cities over the course of the fest.

How has Indian theatre fared historically?

  • India has had a rich theatre history as early as 200 BCE and saw the likes of Kalidasa and Bhavabhuti, Sudraka and Bhasa producing masterpieces.
  • Simultaneously, there is an equally fertile landscape produced tribal, subaltern and folk theatre that morphed and thrived down the ages.
  • The anti-colonial theatre of the mid-19th century brought in the draconian Dramatic Performances (Prevention) Act of 1876.
  • Later, the pre-Independence Left movement generated vital critical energy through the Indian Peoples Theatre Association.
  • But our long theatrical tradition hasn’t been sufficiently exhibited to our own people and the “Indian theatre needs a push, to become vibrant again.
  • Thus, the Olympics being envisaged is not just about bringing international theatre to India but also about brining Indian theatre to Indians.

Is the initiative massive?

  • The itinerary for the program looks huge with 465 productions from 35 countries in 51 days across 17 cities.
  • Each production will get up to Rs.1.5 lakh per show besides travel, accommodation and other costs.
  • There is also technical support such as sets, lighting, sound and subtitles along with photography, videography and publications.
  • Apart from the main plays, there will be ambient performances — tribal, folk, street, puppetry, magic shows — before each show.
  • In total, the fest is expected to present roughly 35,000 artistes across India.

What are the concerns?

  • There is considerable concern on how the festival will respond to political dissent, Dalit concerns or other controversial topics.
  • Notably, there is no censorship and a mere guideline against “nudity and anti-nationalism” has been provided.
  • Plays were selected through a two-tier process and most plays were submitted on DVD, many of which were of poor quality (due to small regional groups).
  • The sheer numbers and content diversity often hindered the review process, and also language and cultural barriers got aggravated by distance.
  • The review format also tends to neglect thoughtful, text-based plays and also results in loss of context and local traditions, which are lost in translation.
  • Notably, Germany has a hefty theatre culture, and each play usually comes with a booklet that gives an overview of the contextual setting and its customs.

What can be hoped out of the festival?

  • Theatre Olympic is a massive effort, but mere massiveness alone can do little to help theatre, although it need not be dismissed completely.
  • This event can potentially become the very first theatre census conducted in the country, and can serve as an invaluable research project.
  • There will be Catalogues, brochures, papers, videos, a documentary, and live streaming of the recordings of thousands of hours of performances.
  • The extensive documentation planned around the Olympics, thus, stands to become its single most significant legacy.
  • This will also help in increasing networking of various drama teams and provide the much needed oxygen for the currently struggling art form.
  • This event will also boost awareness and therefore theatre infrastructure.


Source: The Hindu

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Vijay V 1 year

Hope the "Anti Nationalism" clause doesn't put artists under sedition case. Moreover, a drama is also supposed to show the reality. 

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