‘Renovation’ keeps Abhinav Theatre Closed

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
Once upon a time there was one Abhinav Theatre in Jammu. It was the hub of cultural activities and art lovers not only from  the temple city but even from surroundings used to visit to get enthralled with scintillating performances  of artistes. In addition to local talents, professional groups from all over the country participated in a series of regular productions. North Zone Cultural Centre Patiala (NZCC), National School of Drama (NSD) and other Cultural Organizations were very much active in this part of North India and art lovers were provided with classical Theatre productions as well as dance and music performances.
But it’s a matter of great concern that Abhinav Theatre situated near Jewel Chowk, Jammu that witnessed hustle bustle of artists and art lovers till some years ago presents a deserted look now-a-days as it has been shut for “Renovation”. It was closed with a purpose that after renovation it will be a modern theatre having all ultra modern techniques and artists will feel more excited to perform with more innovation so as to give a creative product. But, what that Renovation means is still a suspense.
Ironically, an urge for a high-quality theatre has resulted in a halt for regular cultural activities even from local talents. Time has been running at its usual speed but official files regarding so called speedy renovation work seem to have vanished. Theatre has been out of operation for so many years now. What’s factual position behind the scene is beyond imagination.
It’s a matter of great concern that despite tall claims by J & K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages for boosting Theatre activities in the state, doing theatre has been a very tough task owing to non availability of good theatre. Worst, weather poses all sorts of hurdles and non availability of a genuine theatre just demoralizes theatre activists.  Abhinav Theatre, only platform to prove potential as a performer as well as imaginative theatre director has been shut for so many years now. Every time one approaches the authorities, for delay only assurances are given assurances have yielded no result at all. They have  just once response that efforts are being made to throw open Abhinav Theatre within short span of time. But this short span of time has stretched for so long now. Still there seems no ray of hope that Jammuties will have the privilege of witnessing theatre productions at Abhinav Theatre, Jammu in near future.
It is pertinent to mention here that the way theatre activists of the soil engage themselves in regular theatre activities at their own; they need to be appreciated for their sheer dedication. But after putting in all sincere efforts and hard work, when they are not able to perform at a good platform, it does hurt them as well as theatre goers.
It’s a matter of pride that we have so many theatre groups doing regular theatre activities in temple city. A even few theatre groups like Amateure Theatre Group (ATG), Samooh Theatre Group, Natraj Natyakunj etc. have marked a distinct position even at national theatre scene. At the same time it has been the privilege of not only Jammu but also the entire state that we have a theatre group  NATRANG that has taken regional theatre to international scene under the direction of Padam Shree Balwant Thakur. With all commitment and devotion these theatre groups have been working with a cause of keeping theatre alive in this part of the world.
As theatre has changed a lot now-a-days, with new innovations and experimentation, a modern theatre has become a necessity to provide sparkling theatre productions to theatre lovers as well as to quench thirst for creative outputs of creative persons engaged in productions in different capacities. These days, light sets are designed by theatre directors that provide a different flavor to the productions as each colour has its own significance. In symbolic productions, nominal props are used and lights play a vital role to convey different sets and even moods.
Ironically, when you don’t have a theatre with good light facilities, how can you go innovative? It is said that art has no limit and within certain precincts art can’t flourish. But for Jammu Theatre activists, it does not apply as they have been performing within a lot of limitations for so many years now. Jammu has only one theatre in the form of Abhinav Theatre that has all facilities. Zorawar Singh & Police Auditoriums are very expensive and are  beyond the approach of theatre groups. Then they are left behind with only one option to perform at K L Sehgal Hall in Cultural Academy which is not a suitable place for theatre at all. Such halls are meant for musical, literary activities etc only that take place in flood lights.
The fact remains that a creative man can’t abstain from performing whatever the conditions may be. But if he/she is provided with much needed tools then the product will be astounding one thus enamoring the spectators as well as satisfying the artists involved therein in the production.
These days we have talented theatre directors who have excelled in stylized productions, having carved a niche for them in art arena. But what I wish to convey through this column is that such productions need proper stage tools and equipments.
Although with whatever facilities being available to them at present, they do manage to create magic on stage but undoubtedly impact would have been different with essential tools available to them.  While summing up, I would like to add that Authorities should be more sincere in providing basic facilities to theatre activists which can happen only by opening Abhinav Theatre without further delay. There should be no further excuse as it’s already a delayed project and a moral obligation for J & K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages also.


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