A Toast to Twenty

On a breezy winter evening,when most people were headed home,a group of 30 odd actors were preparing for gruelling theatre rehearsals that would continue till wee hours of the next morning.

Written by Jahnvi Sreedhar | Published: February 23, 2012 3:31 am

Delhi-based Asmita Theatre Group celebrates its 20th anniversary with a series of plays

On a breezy winter evening,when most people were headed home,a group of 30 odd actors were preparing for gruelling theatre rehearsals that would continue till wee hours of the next morning. In a classroom in Nav Skakti School in Central Delhi,teaching the nuances of acting to the group was Arvind Gaur. “This will not work; seek perfection,act from your heart and emote,” said the founder of Asmita Theatre Group.

This year,Gaur’s group completes twenty years. He still remembers February 1993,when Asmita first staged Hanoosh at Shri Ram Centre. “We were very nervous,but the audience was very supportive,” he recalls. Today,his repertoire includes 62 stage productions and 25 street plays. “It is the passion for theatre and the creative satisfaction that I get out of doing theatre that makes me glued to the stage,” adds Gaur.

Acclaimed for making socio-political comments through its productions — including popular plays like Court Martial,Ambedkar aur Gandhi,Ek Mamuli Aadmi and Ramkali — the journey for the theatre group till now has not been a smooth one. “We started as a group of friends. It took us two-three years to train our own set of actors. Moreover,as a profession,theatre is still not lucrative,” says Gaur.

Recently,when the Anna Hazare movement was in the news,Asmita staged a series of street plays in its support. Gaur says that there has always been an attempt to address topical issues. “The concerns range from domestic violence to female foeticide and eve-teasing,” says Shilpi Marwaha,who heads the team responsible for street plays. Gaur adds,“Asmita has performed more than 400 street plays in the last two years. The medium helps us reach a wider audience.”

While celebrations this year befittingly feature theatre productions that will be staged in the coming months,Gaur hopes that Asmita develops as a platform for young talent. “Actors should grow from within — it’s a process of self growth. Our USP is that we have a cross-section of people from different classes working together.”

The writer is a student of EXIMS

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