Remember the good old Doordarshan days, when at 9PM sharp a thin, properly dressed, bearded gentleman used to read news in English. The man your mom probably had a crush on. He was Sunit Tondon, the man who played Sherlock in this 50 minute performance. And frankly the reason for me to cover the interstate distance of Gurgaon to Connaught Place.
The book reading was just fine, it was quite like a staged drama, the only difference being: actors reading from the script which they held in their hands.
But as the show ended, something strange happened. The owner of Akshara Theatre, an octogenarian came on to the stage, introduced the cast and spread open his kurta, and said, “Apart from being an artist, I am also a beggar”. The audience was shocked.
He told us how this theatre is special. How its architecture is unique. How he himself learnt carpentry to assemble this wooden auditorium for performing arts. He told us how limited the aids are, and how running every show is getting tougher as its burning a hole in his pocket.
Looking at an old man in such a state, asking his audience for financial help, made me very uncomfortable inside. But then, I thought of the embarrassment he must be going through. In his age, when he should be given all the comforts of the world for sacrificing his life to arts, he still has to struggle to keep it alive.
Below, I have attached a few images of Akshara Theatre. If possible, do go there to enjoy a show. It’s the least we can do keep its legacy alive.
The architecture will leave you awestruck before the performance does.
The waiting hall is where yummy soup is served which you can enjoy next to a fire place. YES, THIS PLACE HAS A FIRE PLACE!
Yes, it’s small, but it has stood witness to some big performances.