August 01, 2009

Spaces for theatre, sport; Chennai need them.

Two Sundays. Two destinations. One issue.

Koothu-p-pattarai is a well known theatre company based in our city. It is run by N. Muthuswamy, a celebrated playwright and director.

Many of its actors have gone on to make a name for themselves in theatre, cinema and the arts.

Some years ago, the company moved to the Chinmaya Nagar area in the western part of our city and developed a simple but attractive theatre space.

I had not seen a play in this space and so chose to be at one two Sundays ago. It was a Thamizh play by another celebrated person, Ramanujam. The sudden monsoon rain and gusty wind that lashed the space heightened the atmosphere as the play moved into its final stage.

Catching up with the K-p-p people I learnt that the company would now have to rent an alternate space because the present owner of the property had given them notice to move out.

Here was theatre space that was simply the best for contemporary plays, with unlimited facility for lighting and space for the audience that made them an intimate part of a play . . . soon it would be a thing of the past.

“We have asked Kanimozhi to help us get space in a Corporation school that they may want to close down,” said one actor.

“We’ve asked local schools to give us permission to rehearse,” said another.

Chennai is a cultural capital and we don’t have space for our theatre community. Not even space to rehearse.

Last Sunday, I was at the D. G. Vaishnav College campus in Arumbakkam where former India table tennis star V. Chandrasekar runs a TT academy which has produced some star players.

This Sunday, Vidya Sagar who runs his own TT academy in south Chennai was hosting the finale of an annual TT league he promotes.

I joined Sagar as he drove back home.

“How often I wish Chennai Corporation helped us with space for our sport!”, Sagar said.

Our civic body has lots of space. It is developing many of them.

Perhaps Mayor Subramanian could think of ways of collaborating with the Muthuswamys and the Sagars to create specialised spaces in all our neighbourhoods - for sport, theatre and the arts.

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