List of major Theatre Companies in India
Photo Source: prithvitheatre.org
Theatre in India can be traced all the way up to 2nd century BC when Sanskrit was the language for plays. Today, theatre exists in some form in almost all regions and languages. For an aspirant, the sheer number can be daunting. We have listed some main active theatre groups1 in India over the years. This list is by no means in exhaustive. Given the size, we have limited to the ones with larger appeal and mainly Hindi and English Theatre.
- IPTA: Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) was established in in1942 with a goal to bring cultural awakening among the people of India. There are several committees of IPTA across India . The theater company has produced renowned artists like Utpal Dutt and Salil Choudhary. The theater company is still active in raising social awareness among the people.
- KPAC: Kerala People's Arts Club (KPAC) was established in 1950 for promoting social awareness through cultural activities. KPAC is associated with the Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA). It is also affiliated to the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy and Kerala Folk Lore Academy. Ente Makananu Sari (My Son is Right) and Ningalenne Communistakki (You Made Me A Communist) are two of their most noteworthy performances.
- The Madras Players: The Madras Players is the oldest English theatre group in India. Started by a group of young theatre enthusiasts in 1955 to promote English language theatre, the early efforts were confined to Shakespeare and classic British and American plays. Later on they went on to present contemporary plays. One of their mainstream productions is Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone. Other productions include Kamala, Gaslight, One Day In Ashadha, etc.
- Motley Theater: Naseeruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani founded Motley in 1979. Tom Alter, Ratna Pathak, Kenny Desai and Akash Khurana later joined the group. Motley’s uniqueness lies in its diverse range of plays. Some of their well-known plays are Waiting For Godot, Zoo Story, Arms and the Man, Ismat Apa ke Naam and Manto Ismat Hazir Hain. Their play Julius Caesar” had a cast of seventy while Dear Liar had a cast of only two.
- Ekjute Theater Group: Established in 1981 by Nadira Babbar and Raj Babbar, the company is known presenting the works of the famous playwrights. Along with plays, the company also conducts workshops not just for acting but also various aspects of theatre such as Speech and diction, Voice modulation, Character Building, Dialogue Delivery, Body Movement, Imagination, Improvisation, Emotional memory, Stagecraft, Costume Designing, Light effects, Rhythm, Dance & Music etc. Ye hai Mumbai Meri Jaan and Begum Jaan are two of their famous plays.
- The Phoenix Players: Started in 1984 by husband-wife duo Anita Salim and Salim Ghouse. Salim Ghouse believes in “interpreting” the plays, exploring the Essence of the text, instead of being faithful literally. The sets and costumes are minimal, interplay of lights and sound is used judiciously to enhance the vision of the play. The Good Doctor, Ghost, The Merchant of Venice are some of their productions.
- Aparna Theater Group: This group, established in 1985, is known to add the contemporary flavor to the Indian classics. The company takes the stories from both national and international writers(translations) and present them with minimalist staging. Some of their plays are Cotton 56, Polyester 84, Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon and Loretta.
- ACE Production: Academy of Creative Excellence (ACE) is a well-ensconed name in the world of theatre and entertainment, executing production, design and mega-events in theater. Started and run by Raell Padamsee in 1987, the company’s productions have won wide acclaim. Some of the well-known plays are Macbeth, Grease – The Musical, The Sound of Music among others.
- Aneek Theatre Group: Aneek was established in 1988 in Kolkata. It organizes the festival Ganga Jamuna Natya Utsab which attracts groups from withing India and also abroad like US and Germany. Ekusher Golpo, Prateek, Chi-kissa, Ashokananda are some of the plays from Aneek.
- Pierrot’s Troupe: Founded in 1989, the group performs original plays in Hindi, Urdu and English. Some of their most popular plays include Ghalib in New Delhi (Hindi comedy), Cut Cut Cut (Hindi comedy), Big B (English comedy), Maulana Azad (Urdu monologue), K. L. Saigal (Hindi musical), Ghalib (Urdu musical), Massage (Hindi comedy) and 1947 (Urdu),Chacha Chakkan in Action(Hindi and Urdu),Letters of Ghalib(urdu),Lal quile ki aakhri mushaera(urdu), Sons of Babur and many more.
- Primetime Theater Company: This Company was established by Lillete Dubey in 1991 for promoting and providing a platform for some of the country’s most talented Indian Playwrights. . The company has staged many plays ranging from sexual abuse to Mahatma Gandhi's ideology. Some of the gems given by the company include Dance like a Man, Sammy, and Love on the Brink.
- RAGE Production: Founded by the trio Rajit Kapur, Shernaz Patel and Rahul da Cunha in 1993, the company has mounted plays like Class of 84, Siddhus of Upper Juhu, Love Letter, I’m not Bajirao to name a few. The company has been running the Writers’ Bloc playwrights programme since 2002 which puts the playwright at the focal point of the theatre process.
- The Company Theater: Also known by the name of TCT, the company was established in 1993 to promote the performing arts of different kinds. TCT not only performs plays but also promotes other forms of art. They have their residency program, Company Theater Workspace, to promote the art and theater. Some of the popular productions from The Company Theater are The Chairs, the Lesson, the Lover, Trivial Disasters, Shab Ki Seher and many more.
- Ansh Theater Group: This group was established by Makrand Deshpande in 1993 and has produced more than 30 plays since.. The group works more like friends working together to present a play. Their plays have both style and vigour. The group has given many consequential plays like Seema Badnaam hai, Sir Sir Sarla, Papita & Dev-Vanar.
- Masquerade – The Performance Group: Founded in 1993 in Chennai, the group has staged more than 70 productions. Their pulic performancs are seldom priced and they raise funds through donations and collections. Their plays are generally community based. The Truth, Small Medium @ Large, Gautam’s Three and Doing it in Purpose are some of their productions.
- Ashvin Gidwani Productions: Started in 1995, AGP World or Ashvin Gidwani Productions produces world-class plays and has presence in Dubai, Singapore and expanding into other countries as well. Ashwin Gandi ensures that his productions are commercially viable. Two of their popular plays are Blame It On Yashraj and History of India.
- Dramanon: Dramanon or Dramatist Anonymous is an English Language theatre group operating out of Manipal, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The group was established in 2000 at the college of architecture Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal, to address the need for a common platform for the student community. Broadway world on-line magazine ranked Dramanon as one of the top 8 groups in India in 2015.
- Akvarious Productions: Established in 2000, Akvarious is currently managed by Akarsh Khurana. Akash Khurana is a core member of the group. The company stages productions in English and Hindi across all genres. Their repertoire includes Rafta Rafta, All About My Mother, Blackbird, Faith Healer, Tuesdays with Morrie among others.
- Poor Box Production: The company responsible for bringing Broadway’s Vagina Monologue to India is one of the upcoming names of the theater industry. The company is run by the mother-son duo of Mahabanoo-Mody Kotwal and Kaizaad Kotwal. Since 2003 when the company brought the Vagina Monologues to the country, it has helped in raising substantial funds for the welfare of abused women.
- Five Senses: Founded by Hardik Shah in 2007, Five senses is an ensemble of National School of Drama alumni. They make plays and also conduct workshops for actors, corporate, NGOs. Some of their plays are Saleeb, The Dear Departed, The Monkey’s Paw, The Interview, etc.
- Rangshila Theater Group: Rangshila was established in 2008 by Avneesh Mishra. Their shows have strong message. The company has given noteworthy plays like Unhe Kuch kehna hai, Teesvi shatabdi, Refund, Sur Vs Asur, etc. The company also holds theater workshops to encourage new talent.
- SiLLy PoiNt Productions: Based in Mumbai, India, SiLLy PoiNt Produtions is a theatre company involved in the production of theatrical performances on the professional stage since 2008. They specialize in comedy in three different languages, English, Hindi and Parsi Gujrati. They also teach acting and drama based techniques at NCPA’s Summer Fiesta and also have yearly activity with various schools in Mumbai and across India. Some of their popular plays are Like Dat Only, The Class Act, Rusty Screws, Four Square, Kalaam, Black Comedy, I’m Bawa and i Know It and many more.
- The Indian Ensemble: Started by Abhishek Majumdar and Sandeep Shikhar in 2009, their plays revolve around the poignant tales of contemporary society, culture and politics. Hayavadana, Thook, Kamudi, Gasha are some of their productions.
- The Tadpole Repertory : Started in 2009, The Tadpole Repertory is a theatre collective of actors, writers, directors and designers. This New Delhi based writes and directs experimental stories. They are also in the forefront of using “non-formal spaces” as performance venues. Tadpole’s recent productions include Still and Still Moving, developed in collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre (UK), A Brief History of the Pantomimes, and Gruesome Playground Injuries, a play by the Pulitzer-nominated writer Rajiv Joseph.
- Rangbaaz: Started by Imraan Rasheed and Pawan Uttam, Rangbaaz strives to grow Hindi theatre especially in Metros.Their plays have humor and stories from small towns and villages in India. They choose works of known and unknown writers like Premchand (Munshiji ke Gudgudiyaan) and Shaukat Thanvi (Namak Mirch) for their plays.
- Aarambh Theater: A young company in the field of theater, Aarambh theater founded in 2010, has produced many plays that have won national and international recognition. Their play OK Tata Bye Bye was invited to the Royal Court of London for a reading. It was then produced at Curve Theatre, Leicester UK. Other productions in Aarambh’s repertoire include Aaj Rang Hai, Preth, Tunni Ki Kahani and Umrao
- Gillo Theatre Repertory: Gillo is a Mumbai based organisation working exclusively for children and young people. Currently, their Theatre Repertory offers a range of activities that engage children and young people with theatre and the allied arts. Started in 2010, they have produced more than twelve plays and staged nearly 300 shows across India. Some of their recent shows are A Silly Story of Bondapalli,Gulabo Aur Parizaad, Wagabond.
- Art-Right-Is Theatre Group: Started by author and theatre artist Sharmin Ali in 2013, the Art-Right-Is Theatre Group brings together bother amateur and professional theatre enthusiasts. Their presence is primarily around Bangalore. Their popular shows include Chutzpah and EREBUS- darkness personified.
- Q Theatre Productions: Started by Quasar Thakore Padamsee in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Minorities, All My Sons, The Urban Burden. In 2013, his play So Many Socks was nominated for the META Awards.
- Ashima Theatre: Started in 2013, Ashima believes in performing arts without boundaries of form. They focus on audience through high quality original as well as legendary productions across stage, screen and streets. Their plays include Taghayyur, Das Treffen,Intruders in Darwin Nest.
- The Patchwork Ensemble: A young theatre company started in 2014, The Patchwork Ensemble offers a unique theatre experience which lays importance on the actors body and comes alive in the audience's imagination. The Gentlemen's Club AKA Tape and Ila are their notable plays.
1. Information has been sourced from the theatre groups' websites, wikipedia pages, social media pages and other publicly available data.