The Open Call

Ranga Shankara is back with its 15th Annual Theatre Festival.

This year, the theme for the Festival is ‘Plays that almost weren’t’.

For as long as there have been plays, there has been resistance to plays. Throughout history, there have been attempts to alter, silence or even completely destroy works of theatre due to ‘unacceptable content’, whether the motivations for censorship were religious, social or political. Yet theatre-makers have long pushed boundaries of “offensive” through their imagery and content. The examples range from Aristophanes’ ‘Lysistrata’ in ancient Greece; Dinabandhu Mitra’s ‘Nil Darpan’ and Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar’s ‘Kichaka Vada’ in British India; Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Genet’s The Balcony, Havel’s Memorandum, Fugard’s ‘Sizwe Bansi is Dead’ and Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder’ in the 20th Century; and most recently Orwell’s 1984 and Kalakshetra’s production of Draupadi. The examples are many and the contexts diverse.

We live in a time in which taking offense and stifling artistic freedom seems to have become the norm. The case for artistic freedom is as clear now as it ever was. It needs to be stated unequivocally: It is healthy to criticize theatre, question it, argue over it – but forbidding it means shrinking the shared heritage and future of community, of humanity. Therefore, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to revisit works that have challenged perceptions and histories. And an idea was born. An idea of a Festival of Plays that Almost Weren’t. We invite you to join us in taking this idea to fruition. We invite you to Re-view, Re-imagine, and Re-play.


1) This leaves out new writing. How can this be a good thing for a leading theatre in the country?

Yes. Unfortunately, this theme does demand a script that has been prevented from being staged. A new script has, happily, not yet faced that test. While there is always a need for the expression of new thoughts and voices, there is also a need for looking back and revisiting instances of oppression, of subjugation, of censorship and of examining how theatre makers subverted or openly fought against it. In the world we are in today, this need is all the more pressing. Having said that, a group performing a relatively new script may apply, provided their own performance was at some point censored/challenged/banned outright.

2) Where do we look for such plays? How do we prove that it was not staged in any one particular instance?

There are plenty of resources on the internet that give you lists of plays that weren’t allowed to be staged at some point. Remember that even one instance of its forcible shutting down is enough, anywhere, anytime, in any language. Make sure you include evidence of its ‘banning’, from a verifiable source. Without this evidence, your application will not be valid. Additionally, the page titled ‘Need Inspiration?’ has a selection of plays for you to start with.

3) Does the play need to be staged as it was meant to be when it was banned?

No. Translations, adaptations are perfectly kosher. In fact, as mentioned earlier, the stronger your idea to re-think and re-imagine it with some novel political intent, the more compelling your application will be. Permissions and ethical/aesthetic considerations are, however, things to take care of.

4) Are you looking for premier shows? When is the Festival?

Actually, no. We would much prefer that the play premiered well before the Festival. We do insist on the play not performing in Bangalore for at least one year before its scheduled performance at the Festival from October 27 to November 4, 2018. Also see below.

5) What is the process of application and selection?

You fill in the application form, furnishing all details. Our curatorial panel will review applications and shortlist a maximum of 12 productions. The announcement of the selected plays will be made on August 20, 2018. Watch this space for updates.

6) Are these commissions? What will the commercial arrangement be?

Ranga Shankara hopes that these plays are plays that the applicant already wants to stage and that this is the right forum for that to happen. So these are not commissions. However, there will be a performance fee, travel and accommodation stipend and per diems that will be offered to all the selected plays.

Apply Now – Last Date August 1, 2018!

If you have more questions, please write to