Cultural Center and Theatre in Heggodu

In 1945 dramatist K V Subbanna and his friends decided to start gatherings to share ideas and discuss politics. After Indian independence in 1947, they deepened their intellectual exchange and reflection, started a library, created the newspaper the Ashoka Weekly to spread news on events around India and, later, formed a local theatre group, Ninasam. In the 70s it grew into several different projects as the film society and in the 80s the Ninasam Theatre Institute with ambition to train young people in acting, lighting and directing. Plays put up can be of Karnataka writers as well as of Shakespeare and Brecht translated into Kannada, the language in the state of Karnataka. Today Ninasam is an active cultural centre, headed by Subbanas son K V Akshara. It’s based in the middle of the jungle, in the village Heggodu with around 1500 inhabitants. The library is still there, with an interesting mix of literature serving as base for research for new plays. The one-year diploma course in theatre work is an important part of the center, as well as set up plays engaging the local villagers, who are mostly farmers, in playwright and acting.

The same critical reflection and activist stance we meet when visiting theatre director, playwright, and poet Prasanna in his house. He is dividing his time between the isolation and quietness in his house, surrounded by a large garden with all different kinds of fruit and herbs and with only irregular electricity in the house, with work in the big metropolitan cities of India. His house is filled with books, the stillness is over-whelming; it’s as if you could hear the silence. And we discuss Swedish playwright, theatre and literature tradition. Culture has an amazing way of travelling across boarders, uniting people.

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