Consecrated spaces have a certain air about them. They beckon you to visit time and again. One such space is Ranga Shankara. Nestled away in J.P Nagar, Bangalore, Ranga Shankara was borne from a dream. A dream of a space where the stage is eternal, where a confluence of ideas keeps buzzing, and where art is accessible to all.
Shankar & Arundhati Nag: The visionaries
The legendary duo dreamt of creating an environment dedicated solely to theatre. A space which would nourish artistic spirit, encourage growth, and celebrate excellence. When Shankar Nag tragically met his demise in 1990, Arundhati set out to make their dream a reality.
The Sanket Trust, formed in 1992, worked tirelessly to bring together both pupils & admirers of the stage, in order to build an inclusive theatrical space. After close to a decade of getting the finances in order – through crowdfunding from earnest theatre-lovers to wealthy industrialists – the construction of Ranga Shankara began in 2001. And the doors were thrown open to Bangalore with a month-long theatre festival in October 2004. The festival saw one play being staged every day, and now more than a decade later, Ranga Shankara runs on the same principle.
Every Performer’s Bucket List
A thrust stage auditorium which seats 320 people, four green rooms, and state of the art sound & light system. Ranga Shankara is equipped with acoustics par excellence and the entire space is handicap-friendly.
Additionally, it accommodates a bookshop, full of performance-oriented literature, and a café which is left open for post-show interactions and to the public during the day.
Theatre for All
Built entirely by theatre-people, with the Sanket Trust consisting of theatre royalty like Girish Karnad, S. Surendranath, and M.S. Sathyu, the entire project has been lovingly spearheaded by Arundhati Nag.
A sense of quiet reassurance fills the actor as he knows that it is the play that will be given priority, and not a ‘VIP’ stuck in traffic for whom the show will be grudgingly postponed by ‘5 mins’. There is no elitism, no hierarchy, as the rich & the humble, and the young & the old occupy the same space, pay the same rates, and perform on the same stage. That is the unifying factor of theatre, which Ranga Shankara thrives on.
The Annual Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival
A date marked in every culturally-inclined Bangalorean’s calendar. Over the years, the festival has paid homage to the pillars of theatre, with 2012’s It’s Shakespeare! Fest, and themes like Folk & Traditional Indian Theatre, Laughter…the Best Medicine, and Youth.
Keeping Theatre Alive
Additionally, Ranga Shankara hosts ‘AHA!’- A program aimed to introduce children to the joys of theatre & creative expression. They have hosted festivals for other theatre troupes, like Thespo, Jnanabharati Festival, and festivals for the local troupes. The space routinely hosts trainings in all aspects of theatre through workshops and full-length programs, and the bookstore is used for events like book launches & storytelling sessions.
Ranga Shankara has showcased performances by troupes from all across the globe, and also produced a number of plays. In providing a space for culture to thrive, they have been instrumental in keeping the theatre scene in Bangalore (and India), perennially booming.
Source for all Images: Ranga Shankara