Theatre might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no arguing that the theatre is home to some of the greatest stories ever told. The Indian theatre scene is picking up steam with some stellar performances based on the works of some of our most creative playwrights.
And the best places to see these great plays are at some classic performances spaces across the country. These venues are as grand as the plays that run there. The vastness of their stage, the warmth of the lights and the connection between the audience and actors on stage – all these combine to give us the kind of theatre experience that stay in our minds forever.
Here are India’s most prestigious theatre venues. These places are a must-visit for anyone who’s looking for a unique and personal entertainment experience.
National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai
Founded in 1969 by JRD Tata and Dr Jamshed Bhabha, NCPA is a sprawling campus located at Nariman Point in Mumbai. Its primary aim is to preserve the cultural aspects of Indian society – music, theatre, dance, film, literature and photography. The massive 1,109-seater Jamshed Bhabha Theatre (see cover picture above) has seen some of this world’s best theatre performances on its prestigious stage. There are few theatre venues in the country as opulent as this.
Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai
Built by the Bollywood star Shashi Kapoor in memory of his father, the iconic Prithviraj Kapoor in 1978, Prithvi Theatre has since become the most famous theatre space in India. In fact, for its 50th anniversary in 1995, the Indian government issued a commemorative stamp to mark the occasion. The other major draw here is the equally famous Prithvi Café, which has become a meeting ground for artists, art lovers, and everyone in between. Had Prithviraj Kapoor been alive today, he would have been proud of what his son created – a permanent home for theatre in Mumbai.
Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi
The auditorium is located in the Mandi House area of New Delhi, which is well known as the cultural hub of the city. As much of a delight to perform at as it is to watch theatre, Kamani has hosted numerous national and international performances. At the time of its construction in 1971, this was the most advanced theatre space in the country; that it remains to be amongst the best places to perform at is testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into maintaining this iconic venue.
Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Chennai
When you visit this hall for the first time, you might be a little confused as to why you’re driving into a school compound. But stay patient for a bit as you drive past the school buildings and you’ll be rewarded by the sight of this massive venue located in the far end of the school’s premises. With state-of-the-art amenities, it is the city’s preferred theatre destination and has been home to The Hindu Theatre Fest for some years now.
Kingdom Of Dreams, Gurugram
This venue is the most recent addition to this list, having opened in September 2010. However, its place here is unquestioned since it is by far and away the most advanced performance space in the country, with inputs on its construction coming in from experts the world over. Technicians who’ve worked here have raved about the facilities available to them and it shows in the amazement experienced by audiences who’ve been lucky enough to catch a show here.
Ranga Shankara, Bengaluru
Perhaps the best-known theatre venue in the south, Ranga Shankara opened in 2004 and aims to promote theatre in all languages. With their strict ‘a play a day’ policy, the theatre has brought some of the country’s best performances to life for the audience in the south. It’s annual theatre festival is renowned across the country and while most of the performances here are in Kannada, the space has hosted plays in 20 other languages as well. It is an intimate theatre which serves to connect the audience with the material in a way that’s missing at some of the bigger venues.
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Images Courtesy: http://www.prithvitheatre.org/, http://www.kamaniauditorium.org/, http://www.smvrch.com/, http://www.ncpamumbai.com/, By Ekabhishek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, http://www.rangashankara.org/