This session sought to explore the complicated terrain of institutions and training. We wanted to look at training institutions, but not simply those. We wanted to look at cultural institutions as a whole -- the akademies, the schools of drama, the private theatre institutions, as well as funding agencies.
One often hears the cliché that Indians are not institution-builders, that we cannot sustain institutions over time. How do we look at theatre institutions -- or, more generally, cultural institutions -- which we have in India? State institutions were formed in the aftermath of independence. Was the vision that led to their formation inherently flawed? Did our cultural institutions take forward the best traditions of our independence movement? What have been their successes, measured not in terms of grand showpiece events, but in terms of aiding processes that keep theatre alive and vibrant? And what have been their failures? Are state institutions doomed to failure by virtue of being state institutions? Does the state have any role at all in the realm of culture? If so, what? What about private institutions? Which private institutions have been vibrant and have had an impact on the larger field of theatre practice in their city/region? Are private institutions inherently superior to public institutions? What role have funding agencies played? What kind of institutions do we envisage for tomorrow?
Organised 50 years after the original Drama Seminar in 1957, the Not the Drama Seminar (NTDS) brought together theatre practitioners from all across the country to convene at Ninasam, Heggodu in March 2008. The attempt was to understand 'Indian Theatre' in all its multiplicity and diversity, and to problemetize the issues that arise therein.