Gurukul was one of the first to have its own theatre, but the hall was destroyed in 2012, followed by the closing of Theatre Village in 2016 and Theatre Mall in 2017. At ticket prices of Rs100-500, the income just does not justify the expensive land theatres are housed on.
Except for groups like Sarwanam, which has its own space, theatres rent and have to constantly worry about their future – which doesn’t do much for creativity. Dozens of groups have to take turns staging plays in the six or so threatres. Sunil Pokharel limits himself to just two plays a year because of space constraints.
“Theatre’s main problem today is that it lacks institutional support,” says Abhi Subedi. “There is no degree course on theatre in Nepal’s universities, and little government financial support to produce plays.” Pokharel says corporate sponsorship would do the trick and make up for the shortfall in ticket revenue, but there isn’t much of that.
Despite difficulties, artists find Nepal’s close, intimate theatres, where the audience can hear the performers breathe on stage very impactful. Says Pokharel: “There is no such thing as enough money, in any profession. And if you think you want to take to the stage, you have to be prepared to survive the harsh reality of theatre.”
Real life drama, Abha Eli Phoboo
Bhagvad Gita as opera, Smriti Basnet
The theatre of life, CK Lal
A Midsummer Night’s Sapana, Sahina Shrestha