My experience of an excellent urban design project in my hometown, Bangalore. This theater, called Ranga Shankara, was created by one dedicated person, and it serves whole communities at large, that is the charm of a well-intended and well-designed project! Read on!
Day: November 8th
Location: Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross, J P Nagar, 2nd Phase, Bangalore-560078
Act 1: KA-01 7227 is on its way to Ranga Shankara.
Scene 1: I parked in haste, grabbed a ticket, said hai to someone! Bang [A really LOUD one] Anxious…. Rushed up the flight of stair, entered the arena at 19:29, grabbed my phone and switched it off! [Yes! no silent mode, no vibrator mode, no mode, finally stripped naked of my outside world] Glasses propped up my nose, plonked into the nearest seat, heaved a big sigh and stared into that quiet black emptiness around me.
19:30: Bang! This time I smiled, It was the first time I was going to watch a play all by myself at Ranga Shankara! My smile grew wider!, I was so happy about this new and upcoming theater space that only Bangalore theater is truly so proud of.
All of the City’s well known, unknown, heck, the barely known folks were there. I hadn’t thought that the Karnataka [Kannada] Association for Cinema could handle Bengali, Urdu! Italian, Marathi, Hindustani, Chattisgarhi, Manipuri and English theater in the same month after all, but that festival gave me goosebumps thinking about it even today.
Scene 2: Wondering if this auditorium is really the worth it [wondering, only because there is no phone to meddle with!] After seeing those posters showcasing the thirty one plays in thirty days, it was a packed itinerary for the festival month, I was curious to see some of them was just happy that we had a real theater for drama, so close to home!
This place was created in the memory of late Kannada actor Shankara Nag by his wife, Arundathi Nag. A small-time but mighty 300-seater theater it was, because its been seating all of Bangalore’s theater lovers for the past month or so to witness one of the most enterprising theater festival. It was cherished by a community that has helped make this auditorium come true to life. It stands tall and proud for its community, and this accolade falls shy for a place of such character.
A phased out public Jaya Prakash Nagar Post Office found its landmark just next door to Shankara. The restaurants that sprang nearby drew all the local crowds into this area. The design of the theater was by well-known architects in the City, but the most important thing is that this theater and its open welcoming spaces, combined with the artistic connection has drawn the locals like bees to honey! It may not have designed parking place but sure does bring a lot of the community folks to talk and hang around its cafe and auditoriums. Spill out or spill in; there’s coffee and a something else [a movie, short plays, snapshots of famous people, gossip, books, questionnaires, idli, bonda, sandwich, etc.] with it, just the right kind of space for an urbanite to belong to in his/her city!
Urban design needs to serve its community, its primary job is to bring community together, and what better an example than Ranga Sankara.
Scene 3: A well spent evening out is the only way to describe an evening at Ranga Sankara. Backed up by those true aficionados; Ranga Sankara was being true to the essence and true to the spirit of purpose it was created. So what if a cell phone network company sponsors a theater show, phones are still switched off inside the auditorium.
Scene 4: I sat cross-legged just few feet away from the main stage, allowing myself to be intoxicated, stupefied, torn apart and drained by true art…..now this my friends, is what ‘being alive’ felt like.
Act 2: Timber stage, centripetal focus.
Scene 1: Doors shut, no latecomers please! Look at those steep stairs leading up to seats! they look dangerous…..and that’s why you stay out, latecomer! Hush!
Scene 2: Raking of seating held up by the props of the plays below, literally.
No embellishment to the quality of performance and performers.
Simple and straight-out for entertainment, the right way.
Scene 3: Goose bumps, well set air-conditioning head-on’s, expectancy levels of a clean space rises.
Act 3: act 3
Act 4: This theater, in the very age of flat screen TV and home theater system, allures a drone of bees to its hex. A chance to spend quality time and money in passing is very likely to occur. The ease with which anybody can handle such an experience is proof of the comfort level there. Cheers to more of Ranga Sankara.