Theatre

Apart from Gubbi Theatre, the Association is the oldest living entity in the Indian theatre with over 73 years of continuous active history. Starting in 1926 it was Shri. Gangadharaiah, a lawyer by profession, who initiated the theatre activity. The troupe gave public performances of ‘Viratparva’ and ‘Shakuntala’ in aid of Yamunabai Nair Hospital in 1927.

While Mythologicals, Historicals dominated the 30s. In 30 & 40s T.P.Kailasam known as Karnataka Prahasana Pitama who stayed in the Association and directed a few of this plays, changed this trend to social parodies.

Up to 1952 it was only men who donned the female roles. In 1952, lady members volunteered to play the leads and made history in the Kannada Theatre. Smt. Madhura Krishnaswamy, Sharadamma Narayana Swamy & Meera Rao not only broke the traditions but encouraged others to join the theatre activity. Today if in the Association’s theatre group, lady artists outnumber men, the credit should go to these courageous ladies.

V.K.Murthy, the noted cinematographer was the driving force in the 40s, 50s and 60s. He was joined by an enthusiastic band of artists M.N.Ramachandra Rao Jayabheema Rao, Duggapaiah Nadig, C.S.Puttanaiah, Gopinath and Shankaranaryana Rao.

70s saw the emergence of a new generation of playwrights and artists who made a clean break with the traditions. Comedies and parodies gave way to social realism and surrealism. It was in the 70s, 80s and 90s the Association’s theatre attained the status of professionals with more emphasis on Body language, music and above all group acting, and created epic theatre. Association went on to bring many Kannada novels on to the stage. The troupe travelled all over Maharashtra, Karanataka and Gujarat to garner more laurels. The list of men, women and children who contributed to the growth of theatre is a long one.

Today the Association can boast of 4 generation of artists on a single stage, working together and passing on the heritage to the future.

At the beginning of the new millennium, an 8-day long multi-language theatre festival of Shri Girish Karnad was organized in which 8 different groups from different parts of India took part. Also forming a part of the festival was a debate cum conversation with the playwright himself along with other theatre stalwarts such as Vijay Tendulkar, Chandrasekhar Kambar, Jabbar Patel, Alique Padamsee, and which drew a large audience.

Besides Girish Karnad, the Association has hosted other Kannada playwrights and theatre personalities like B. V. Karanth, Chandrasekhar Kamabar, B. Jayashree, and Nagabharana.

Childrens’ theatre and art workshop is also a regular activity which is conducted at the Association by eminent personalities from the related fields. This is being done with a view to encourage budding artists in the new generation.