Founded in 1949 by a small band of enthusiasts in the little village of Heggodu, Karnataka, Ninasam has, over these five decades, evolved into a many-winged cultural institution that has won wide recognition. It has been acclaimed as a unique experiment in fusing culture and activism, art practice and social commitment, individual creativity, and collective responsibility. Originally begun as an amateur theatre group it has branched off in several directions and now enfolds a variety of sub-institutions and projects which are engaged in multifaceted activities. Its exploration of a new synthesis of formal and non-formal modes of arts education has been seen as a refreshing attempt at revivifying the vital links between the arts and the community. This endeavor of Ninasam to be a bridge between the microcosm of rural Karnataka and the macrocosm of the world at large has brought it many honors, one of the highest of which has been the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Creative Arts, Communication, and Journalism, conferred on its co-founder and guiding spirit, Late. K.V. Subbanna, in 1991.
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What we do
Branches – Projects
Ninasam Theatre troupe
Fondly called the‘Mother troupe’, this is a loosely formed amateur theatre group which has been putting up theatre productions regularly since its establishment in 1949.
Ninasam Tirugata Theatre Repertory
Started in 1985, and composed mainly of the alumni of the Ninasam Theatre Institute, this is a wandering theatre troupe which takes 3 new productions to different parts of Karnataka every year. It has so far performed at more than 250 centers, most of the rural/semi-urban, and put up around 3,000 shows over these 23 years, reaching a total audience of about 19,00,000, a feat unmatched in the annals of Indian Theatre. With its judicious selection of plays and production styles, it has taken Indian as well as Western classics, old as well as modern masterworks to an unparalleled variety of audiences all over its home state.
Ninasam Theatre Institute
Begun in 1980 and recognized by the State Govt. of Karnataka, the institute offers a 10-month diploma certificate course in theatre arts which is roughly modeled on the three-year Bachelor’s Course offered by the National School of Drama, New Delhi. With an intake of about 15 students every year, the institute has so far turned out more than 500 trainees, a large majority of whom have engaged themselves full-time or part-time in Kannada theatre or other allied fields like journalism, socio-cultural activism, primary education, and now in the emerging field of television.
Ninasam Samskriti ShibirA
A major event on the Ninasam annual calendar, this 7-day course combines academic sessions during day-sessions with a week-long cultural festival in the evenings. Every year, an average of 100 participants of a richly heterogeneous composition—teachers, students, social activists, artists, media persons, doctors, engineers, lawyers, farmers, shopkeepers, housewives and the like—attend the course where they have the rare opportunity of interacting with some of the best intellectuals and artists of contemporary India as well as watching some quality cultural programmes. Begun in the early 1990s, the course has so far hosted about 600 resource persons, 500 performers, and 2,500 delegates.
Our Other Projects
Karnataka has had a long history in theatre. However, there has not been much systematic audio-visual documentation of plays. Ninasam decided to partner with Sanchi Foundation ®, a not for profit organization working for the documentation of audio-visual heritage based in Bangalore, for a documentation project. Three productions of 2015 by Ninasam were recorded in a multi-camera setup and edited to state of the art audio-visual standards. Sanchi also added a value addition by having various features around it. The documentation included the director’s commentary, interpretation of the text and a documentary on Ninasam and its heritage. English subtitles were present in the entire documentation. These features reach out to a large audience. It not only entertains but also educates the audience. It will also appeal to historians, academics and scholars in the years to come. With Sanchi Foundation ®, Ninasam hopes that through this project, documenting theatre would be possible in a new level.
Matukate is Ninasam’s modest house-journal begun in 1987. A quarterly publication, it initially used to provide our well-wishers and patrons spread all over the state news regarding Ninasam’s activities as well as information deemed important and useful to other similar cultural groups. Over the years however, its range has been expanded, and now it also carries special articles and texts and/or translations of lectures by eminent persons presented at our cultural courses as well as extension programmes, as also from other sources, all relating to general cultural issues.