The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Take in a play with Sunday lunch
- Five stage veterans come together to give English theatre a professional script

Act II. Scene I… Sunday luncheon theatre at Trincas. Workshops for budding stage artistes and backstage crew in school and college. Snappy skits to jazz up cosy private dos. And a steady stream of stage productions like Scapino, Habeas Corpus or The Odd Couple.

To swing the spotlight back on English-language theatre in Calcutta, five stage veterans have come together as Limelight. The newly-formed partnership firm, keen to “revive and promote English theatre professionally”, has been set up by Dean Turner, Gitanjali Alagh Jolly, Daleep Kakkar, Punam Singh and Girish Mansata. The aim is to do things “differently”.

And so, Trincas. The Park Street destination of the Sixties is planning a throwback to the good ol’ times. The revival route marked by Vivien Hansen-style talent search shows, sees synergy in Limelight’s ways. “We are thinking of introducing luncheon theatre on Sundays, lively skits to go with the holiday mood,” confirms Sunny Puri of Trincas. “Since we are the only place on Park Street with live music, it goes well with our profile and such events can later become bi-weekly affairs, depending on the response.” The objective, for Limelight, is to create a brand that will be supported by sponsors and the English theatre-going audience. “We want to compensate actors and actresses for the time and effort they put in. So, 25 per cent of the profits from each production will go to the cast,” says Mansata, who plans to stage at least four plays a year, ranging from bedroom farces to children’s theatre.

“We are hopeful that our out-and-out commercial productions will be able to subsidise the more creative and non-commercial ventures,” adds Punam Singh, who is confident that Limelight can reach out to students through theatre workshops and musicals as “a natural progression”. Singh, who has just done a cameo in Aparna Sen’s Mr and Mrs Iyer, puts part of the blame for the sad state of affairs on the English stage on Calcuttans: “People here are prepared to pay through their nose to watch second-rate plays from Mumbai, but are not ready to spend even a third of that to sample a quality local production.”

For Limelight, with an initial corpus of Rs 1 lakh stitched together by the five partners, the curtain goes up on October 5 and 6 with back-to-back shows of Two Into One, a sitcom written by Ray Cooney and directed by Dean Turner.

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