Each month Q will ramble on through a list of things theatrical. This month:
Best Theatre Coverage Pages
Welcome to the first of a new column of weird theatrical lists. This month's list has been inspired from a call I received asking me to write a regular column for the Asian Age's theatre page. My immediate response was "Asian Age has a theatre page?". This got me thinking about all the various places people go to get updates from the theatre world. So here goes, my list:
- Time Out Mumbai: Theatre Page: Every fortnight.
When it was launched a few years ago it became the city's first regular outlet to let people know what was going on. Now performances at Cafes and off beat venues are no longer guerrilla theatre enterprises. They are able to reach people. It has achieved the unachievable, it is wanted by performers, journalists and audiences alike. TOM also places a high premium on it's contributors and has spawned a whole generation of exciting theatre reviewers like Pranoti Dutta, Subuhi Jiwani and Saumya Ancheri.
- Mumbai Theatre Guide: www.mumbaitheatreguide.com
A God send to the the starved theatre fan. Started almost ten years ago by two budding dot-commers, the site is wonderful catalogue of shows, groups and reviews. The editorial content may not be of high caliber, but the regularity and consistency of the updates, means that you are never out of touch with what is going on.
- Shanta Gokhale's Column in Mumbai Mirror
This is the holy grail for all theatre productions. A good word from the high priestess of culture and people can retire satisfied. Originally the culture editor for the Times of India, in these pop culture days, her column has been reduced to a fortnightly piece in the Mirror. Although not exclusively a theatre column, it is still a privilege to be watched and written about by the most respected theatre critic in the city.
- What's Hot: Bombay Times every Friday
This is the listing page that has slowly but surely given more and more space to theatre. Although the Bombay Times give absolutely no presence to theatre listings during the week, come Friday and almost two pages are awash with pictures, plays and synopses.
- Deepa Gahlot: Bombay Times Weekly Column
At a time when theatre journalism was at it's lowest, Deepa Gahlot waged a lone war bringing back theatre news into the mainline dailies. Although the reviews have gone from her column, her weekly column still manages to capture what are the latest happenings on Bombay's theatre scene.
- Asian Age Theatre Page: Every Friday.
The Asian Age has always been a supporter of the arts. When most have murdered their culture pages, AA has managed to keep it going and make it even bigger. The regular full page every Friday has strong articles local productions as well as some international work. And now it has your truly writing for it every alternate week.
- PT Notes: Every month
The grand daddy of them all. PT Notes has endured criticism, lack of funding and even a temporary shut down, but it's always come back stronger. Now in a more 'fun' avatar than the earlier academic journal, the newsletter includes insane trivia and even fun anecdotes. Originally mentored by Ramu Ramanathan, PT Notes gave birth to some powerful theatre scribes - Pragya Tiwari, Scherazade Kaikobad, Karishma Attari. Now being guided by Ram Ganesh Kamatham and Shanta Gokhale PT notes looks like creating another great generation of theatre writers.
- Arts & Theatre by Kevin Lobo: Mumbai Mirror
Probably the greatest example of the 'power of the press'. An article by Kevin Lobo can almost guarantee a full house. His work is well researched and it seems he has a genuine interest in supporting the work rather than chasing the most populist angle.
When I started this list, I had imagined I would get to ten. But it is really disheartening to realise we only managed eight. There are also rans like the DNA, but that is usually slightly sub standard in it's research and never really features the show times, so it doesn't drive the audience to the show. Then of course there are the 'home publications' like The Script and the Thespo Magazine, but in good faith I can't put them in the countdown list.
So that's it for this month, hope you tune in to next month. Also if you do have suggestions of the kinds of lists you want to see, let me know.