New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) The 11th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual theatre festival of the National School of Drama (NSD), has begun on an optimistic note here for theatre artists and troupes.
Directors, actors and groups can look forward to a bigger slice of the largesse doled out by the government and the NSD at the inaugural function Wednesday night to help them survive.
'The production grant scheme for theatre artists will increase substantially from April 1, by at least five times,' secretary of the ministry of culture Jawahar Sircar announced in the Kamani auditorium in the capital.
The government, on the basis of a report by a special panel led by senior bureaucrat Bhaskar Ghose, has also decided to increase the salary grant scheme for theatre groups. 'At least 200 groups across the country depend on the salary grant scheme to sustain their art,' Sircar said.
The revised remuneration package for theatre groups will be posted on the website of the cultural ministry Monday.
The government has also decided to raise the ceiling of the building trust fund for logistics support to theatre groups, Sircar said.
The culture secretary exhorted theatre lovers and the intelligentsia to take the lead in preparing the draft concept for national theatre - a debate which has been simmering for the last 30 years.
But the concepts must be backed by adequate facts and figures to distinguish between local and national theatre, he said.
The inaugural function was graced by Zohra Sehgal, 97, the grand old lady of Indian theatre, who was the guest of honour.
The nonagenarian, who was integral to the Prithvi Theatre and almost spent all her formative years on the stage, along with her younger sibling Uzra Butt, 91, received a standing ovation for a spirited rendition of the signature sonnet-cum-ghazal - 'Abhi To Mein Jawan Hoon'- in verse.
Sehgal, whose demeanour belies her age, said today's youth required motivation to make experimental and intellectual theatre. 'If Gen Next has to succeed to sustain on theatre as a vocation, they have to give all to the stage,' Sehgal said.
The 12-day festival will feature 63 plays and allied activities.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and President Pratibha Patil sent messages of goodwill for the theatre festival.