Welcome to the world of Bangalore Little Theatre!
Affectionately known as BLT, it is the city’s oldest and most widely respected non-profit theatre society. The Golden Jubilee was not too long ago. The Diamond is just ahead!
BLT got going in 1960 as a membership-driven organization. It functioned with an amateur, non-commercial status. There was no income for any member from any of the group’s activities then. These features gave BLT a good part of the character it maintained over many years. It was theatre for the love of the theatre, and the love of the theatre held it together as a large, happy family.
A small group of committed persons in Bangalore sought a theatre experience that could be a genuine alternative to the prevailing order. The group comprised a mix of active theatre enthusiasts: three British couples (one being the talented Scott and Margaret Tod); a Dutch couple; an American couple; an Indian engineer with a European wife, and, of course, many Indians. Scott Tod was a trained director and Margaret a trained actress, both from the Little Theatre movement in the UK. They were the founders of what was to grow into Bangalore Little Theatre. Collectively, the group had a united vision of a Community Theatre best described by a slogan invented 25 years later:
Think Globally, Act Locally.
Bangalore Little Theatre came into existence with a play reading in the first week of September 1960. The first production on stage in December 1960 was Moliere’s The Prodigious Snob, more commonly known as ‘The Would-be Gentleman’. BLT started as a performing group. And it continues to be known widely as a group that performs plays. Many plays. Good plays. Plays that the Bangalore public looks forward to watching. With over 200 plays performed, the group has certainly been productive…and creative. BLT is admired for the quality of its productions, setting benchmarks for many other theatres in Bangalore.
Over the years we have become deeply involved in training, education, outreach programmes and a range of developmental activities. Old-timers of BLT have often been asked the secret of the group’s long life when, in contrast, we see hundreds of cases of groups starting with a bang and dropping by the wayside in a couple of years. The difference, it seems, is in a simple fact that BLT is a participation-organization and, therefore, a genuine theatre community.
Into its sixth decade. With every likelihood of a long and happy lifespan ahead. The conduct of affairs has always been professional, with best practices in organization and management brought into all that the group did. Way back in 1962, in one of the earliest discussions on the future of the group, we saw that there were three “poisons” that were responsible for the death of theatre groups worldwide: star complexes, non-transparency in finance and accounts and personality-centred organization and management. Many years later, when BLT took up the strategic planning exercise in 2005, we discovered an interesting statistic: the average life of a start-up theatre group is…5 to 7 years!
In February 2010, BLT was invited to present a paper at a national seminar on Urban Growth in Bangalore. BLT’s paper examined the role of English language theatre in the urban arts environment of Bangalore, taking a historical perspective from the pre-independence era. Extracts from the paper, reproduced below, serve to sum up BLT’s history in the context of the development of English theatre in Bangalore.
In the Bangalore of the 1960s, the order of the day in English theatre was a form referred to as BBC—British Bedroom Comedy.
The emergence of BLT.
Foundations based on professionalism.
Looking forward, defining strengths.
The Academy of Theatre Arts.
Training & Workshops
The flagship training programme of BLT has been the annual Summer Project on Theatre, popularly known as SPOT.
SPOT is the only world class training workshop in Bangalore that is also absolutely free, a reflection of BLT’s commitment to the promotion of the dramatic arts. The workshop incorporates the best-in-class training methods, and has a strong base in the behavioural sciences. Over the years SPOT has also included a Trainer-Training programme for wider dissemination of theatre training.
In a typical year, BLT’s plays would usually be a mix of:
History of Ideas Programme
One workshop production to explore a new script, playwright or form.
Partnerships and Collaborations
BLT’s Community Theatre orientation goes naturally with its reputation of working in partnership and through collaborative arrangements. We have often been a catalyst-facilitator, getting several players to pull together in a common endeavour—a theatre festival here, an educational project there…
In defining the scope of the Mission for itself the Academy quickly recognized the importance of collaborative effort in all its plans. We believe that the future of theatre development will depend heavily on collaboration across many interested people, and not on isolated pursuits.
BLT Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. There are two programme Divisions within the Foundation, Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) and the newly created Academy of Theatre Arts (ATA). Each has its own management structures, with sufficient connections in planning and practice. The management team is backed by members taking up specific responsibilities. We are delighted to introduce you to our current management team…