Toran Natak Theatre Company, by Lenskap

March 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

Toran Natak is one of four surviving traveling theater groups in Gujarat, India.

In a state which has lost thousands to communal violence in recent years, these 25 artists coming from varied castes and religions reaffirm the idea of peaceful and positive co-existence.

In the 1970s, traveling troupes were at the height of their popularity. Supporting over a hundred artists and a repertoire of over 50 plays from different genres, competition between rival troupes was immense and many performers were nothing short of being stars.

Since the 1990s, television and mainstream cinema have practically destroyed their livelihood. With the number of people attending performances dropping every season, the remaining troupes find it very hard to continue. For the government these artists simply do not exist. They are provided with no support, monetary or otherwise, in fact, putting on a show often involves paying bribes to various government institutions.

Election times are particularly difficult, as there is a law stating that no more than five people can congregate together. This can put a working troupe out of action for months, and reflects the lack of respect and acknowledgment for performing artists outside of the mainstream in present day Indian society.

But at least for now, Toran Natak are continuing, even if it’s just for takings of 5000 rupees (roughly £70) a night to be shared between its 25 performers.

They know it better than most – the show must go on!

Lenskap started taking pictures with a camera he found at a picnic spot in Mussoorie when he was 13. When the film was later developed, he discovered pictures of a large and unknown family, enjoying their weekend and posing in ways he found funny and mysterious.

When not taking pictures, Lenskap runs an eclectic design studio, publishes an online magazine, and plays with synths and sequencers. He lives in a concrete building surrounded by more concrete and the odd Jacaranda tree, but has plans to go and live in the Andamans and chill.

For more about Lenskap, follow this link.

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*In the run up to the opening of BLINDBOYS WIDEYED on 12th March, we are blogging about each of the Blindboys photographers and the work they have sent us for the exhibition.

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