History of National School of Drama
The idea of a central institution for theatre was developed during a seminar in 1954. Consequently, a draft scheme was prepared in 1955. The Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), whose president was Jawaharlal Nehru, started making plans for the institution. Around this time, Bharatiya Natya Sangh (BNS) established the Asian Theatre Institute (ATI) on January 20, 1958, in Delhi with the assistance from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). In July, 1958, the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) had gained control over ATI. SNA is considered to be India’s National Academy of Music, dance and drama under Government of India.
In the next year, the government merged SNA with a newly founded school. Thus, the National School of Drama was established in April, 1959. Initially the school was located in Nizamuddin West and was known by the name, ‘National School of Drama and Asian Theatre Institute’. The first batch of this institute passed out in the year 1961. The school then shifted to Kailash Colony house. In this new location, Ebrahim Alkazi (1962-1977) the then director of the institute made the students dig and build platforms for a theatre in the backyard of a rented Kailash Colony house and also examined the syllabus. In the year 1975, the school gained the status of being an autonomous organization, under the erstwhile Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Department of Culture, with the name 'National School of Drama'. In the same year, the school shifted again to Bahawalpur House, which is identified as the residence of Bahawalpur, a former princely state and its present location. At this time, Alkazi designed two theatres for NSD. They are a 200-seat studio theatre and an open-air Meghdoot theatre, located under a banyan tree.
On 16th of March 2005, NSD was promoted to the status of a deemed university by the Government of India. But NSD Society requested to officially cancel this bestowed status in the year 2010. This is because this status could undermine the professional training, autonomy and flexibility required in the creative fields such as theatre. In October 2011, the status was finally annulled.
Course Offered in National School of Drama and it’s Aims
National School of Drama offers a three year full time post-graduate diploma course in dramatic arts. Each year, this school can admit only twenty six students from across India. The primary aim of the course in National School of Drama is to prepare the students in the practice of theatre. To achieve this aim, a variety of practical skills is imperative to be developed and a collection of knowledge must be gained by the students. The course also aims to develop an intangible concept of creative imagination and its expression within the collective framework of a group.
Subjects of Study in National School of Drama
National School of Drama covers multiple areas of study under dramatic arts. They are Modern Indian Drama, Classical Indian Drama and Aesthetics, World Drama, Voice and Speech, Yoga, Movement, Theatre Music, Acting and Improvisation, Theatre Architecture, Scenic Design and Stage Technology, Costume Design, Stage Lighting and Production Process. The institute also arranges appreciation courses and workshops for the students on different aspects of Indian art and culture, sociology, philosophy and history.
Training in National School of Drama
Training in National School of Drama ensures that the theory is related to practice. It is highly intensive and is based on a thorough, comprehensive, carefully planned syllabus which covers every aspect of theatre. Students are also required to produce plays as a part of their training, which are then performed before the public.
Performing Areas in National School of Drama
National School of Drama has three auditoria within the campus. They are the Abhimanch Auditorium, Sammukh Auditorium and Bahumukh Auditorium. Apart from these divisions, this school has a studio theatre and minor performance spaces, which are used on special occasions like the Bharat Rang Mahotsav. Apart from the performing areas, the school has other facilities like a video audio library and separate hostels for girls and boys.
Performing Wings of National School of Drama
There are two known performing wings of National School of Drama. They are Repertory Company and Sanskaar Rang Toli.
Repertory Company is the professional performing wing of National School of Drama. It was established in the year 1964 with an aim to promote professional theatre in India. It has been headed by people like Om Shivpuri, Manohar Singh, Ram Gopal Bajaj (Acting Chief), J.N. Kaushal (Acting Chief), Anuradha Kapur (Acting Chief), Suresh Sharma, Sagar Kamble and Atul Singhai (Animation chief). This company has staged over 120 plays based on the works of about 70 playwrights and featuring around 50 directors in many cities in India and several other countries. It also celebrates a festival called the Annual Repertory Company Summer Festival every year. This festival is marked by the performance of new and past plays of the company. In 2004, the repertory celebrated its 40th anniversary with a theatre festival in New Delhi.
Sanskaar Rang Toli
Sanskaar Rang Toli, also called the Theatre-in-Education Company (T.I.E) was established in the year 1989. Presently, this company has developed into India's premier educational resource centers. It trains children aged 8 to 16 years. It is involved in performing plays for school and adults audiences regularly. The yearly theatre festivals celebrated by this company are Jashn-e-Bachpan and Bal Sangam.
Festival Celebrated by National School of Drama
National School of Drama celebrates the 'National Theatre Festival' called Bharat Rang Mahotsav. This festival is dedicated solely to theatre and is known as the annual theatre festival of this school. It is recognized as the largest theatre festival of Asia. This festival is being celebrated since 1999, usually in the second week of January (7-22 January 2011) in New Delhi. The festival’s satellite edition in Mumbai showcased plays of NSD graduates, including Ratan Thiyam’s Prologue, Bansi Kaul (Aranyadhipati Tantiya), Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury (The Suit), Sanjay Upadhyay (Harsingar), Baharul Islam (Akash), Mohan Maharishi (Dear Bapu) and M K Raina (Stay Yet Awhile).
Regional Centers of National School of Drama
National School of Drama decided to start Regional Resource Centers (RRC) across India. In the year 1994, NSD has set up first such centre in Bangalore. Such centers were opened by the institute to decentralize its activities
Extension Programmes of National School of Drama
Extension Programmes comprise of workshops for adults as well as children and are conducted under NSD faculty and alumni in various parts of the country and even in Nepal and Bhutan. They were launched in the year 1978.
Indian Drama & Theatre
Indian Theatre Schools
Personalities in Indian Theatre
Regional Theatre in India
Indian Theatre Companies