It is not enough that art must have an artist, but there must be a nurturing environment for art and artists to grow and develop. In 1969 two pioneers, JRD Tata and Jamshed Bhabha developed a venue in Mumbai, that soon became an all encompassing, world-class performance centre. Thus was born the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which has become the heart and soul of art in this country.
Historically, this premiere cultural institution is the first multi-genre, multi-venue centre in South Asia. The centre’s status wasn’t limited geographically, artists from all over the world had one of their brightest moments in that august venue. The artists that had a chance to begin their journey had an opportunity to be mentored by some of the best artistic minds that the world has on offer including the brilliant director Satyajit Ray and the very talented violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
NCPA is not just a venue. Its a magical structure of multiple spaces including theaters, art galleries, open spaces where India’s art has been chronicled. The most iconic part of this complex structure could be the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, a proscenium theatre with a seating capacity of over a thousand seats is an icon of resilience. The exemplary theatre auditorium can literally be called the phoenix of NCPA as it rose from the ashes after a massive fire accident during its initial construction. Apart from being the dream-child of Jamshed Bhabha, the theatre has witnessed countless directors’ dream come alive in that sacred space.
Besides JBT theatre, NCPA houses the Godrej Dance Theatre, inaugurated in 1987 with an intimate space of just 177 seats; followed by the Experimental Theatre with 264 movable seats, which allows it to be configured to accommodate a range of events. The NCPA in its efforts to nurture new talent and audience also houses the Little Theatre, with a 114 seating space, promises young musicians and talent to showcase their skill.
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Renowned American architect Phillip Johnson had his share of contributions to this majestic complex. Alongside legendary acoustician Cyril Harris, Philip created the renowned Tata Theatre that effortlessly combines the grandeur of a full scale arena with the intimacy of a small scale venue. Apart from these, NCPA also features many open areas where artists can showcase their talent in a very personal setting, an art gallery and other nurturing spaces.
While Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Zakir Hussain, MS Subbulakshmi, Shabana Azmi, Parveen Sultana are some of the notable national names that have graced the revered halls, international artists such as Vladimir Malakhov and Yehudi Menuhin have also made their mark here. Apart from individuals, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Barber of Seville opera, production of Jane Eyre, and New Jersey Ballet have all performed in NCPA’s hallowed venues.
As the art complex completes 50 years, they have carried forward not just the cultural and artistic history of our country but the soul and essence of art and artists from all over the world. They make sure that the soul of humanity — that is its art and culture — continue to find a place they can call home in this country.
Image Source: ncpamumbai.com