Friend: What are doing these days?
Me: I am into theatre full time now.
Friend: No, I mean what are doing these days? Where are you working?
Me: I am involved in theatre full time now.
Friend: Hey you must be doing something else to run your house right?
With mainstream media stealing the show and snatching all the good money that comes with it, lucrative opportunities to perform has always been a pressing issue for most of the performing artists. As for Neeraj, he decided to turn the table around for himself and other theatre artists in the country. Having always been an entrepreneur at heart, Neeraj learnt the art of business in the National University of Singapore. Further with his corporate experience, he realized that theatre in India, although having extreme potential, lacked organization. “Theater in India was not well organized, I saw a big potential in organizing it and making it more professional, bringing little bit of theater in everyone’s life everyday and that’s how PACT was born. I decided to form a unique organized theatre company and open our doors to any person with creative abilities,” says Neeraj, Founder, Platform for Action in Creative Theatre (PACT).
After resigning from a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job, Neeraj started PACT in November 2009 with no money working from home like many other startups. With a stroke of the startup luck (sent by the Startup Gods themselves), PACT signed its first contract for a school’s annual day program. After a call from Panacea Biotec’s Managing Director Dr. Rajesh Jain for a presentation on their approach towards certain training intervention, there was no looking back.
The name “Platform for Action in Creative Theater” was consciously chosen signifying the platform that PACT provides to new and upcoming theater artists, directors and scriptwriters encouraging them to bring their talent forward and showcase it to the public. PACT is currently involved in Theatrics, Arts and Cultural Management working as a facilitating platform.
The typical clientele of PACT include corporate companies, educational institutions and various Government Bodies. PACT trains teachers, parents and children apart from conceptualization, preparation and implementation of cultural and annual day program in educational institutions. As for corporate companies, PACT conducts training programs for soft skills, communication, and customer service apart from doing brand promotion, rural marketing and implementation of CSR programs for them.
With their USP being products like “Play in a Day” (to put up a play in a single day), assertive communication techniques based on Augusto Boal acting methodology, street theatre techniques for the corporate etc, they constantly devise new programs based on learning methodologies only found in the theatrical world. Interestingly, PACT doesn’t launch any product till the entire goes through each of these sessions personally.
As a company that welcomes all creative people, PACT has a team of both part timers and a dedicated full time artistic Director. Gouri Nilakantan, the artistic director has done her masters in theatre fromMiamiUniversityand is currently pursuing her Ph.D program fromJawaharLalNehruUniversity.
PACT markets itself through social media, word of mouth and referrals. “We also have seen that advertisements don’t go very well with theatre while referrals and recommendations are seen with high regard. We also believe in global networking and hence use social media to its fullest utility,” shares Neeraj.
With funding to scale across the nation, Neeraj intends to establish PACT as the theatre company inIndiathat is constantly providing a platform to nurture new talent. “When you look at the profile of performers at the grass root level inIndia, you will realize that they are not very educated or aware about what’s happening around. Only the few who are at the top of the pyramid have been receiving various grants and good money,” explains Neeraj about the state of the performers inIndiatoday.
Artists and artisans across the country have been long suffering due to the lack of organization in the arts. Be it remuneration or recognition, independent artists and performers (not part of the mainstream entertainment industry) have always been receiving the raw end of the deal. With more people being sensitized to the problems of the artistic community in India, more initiatives like PACT and others (Radio Flote, Tana Bana, Aporv, Shopo) have set forth to improve the state of theatre artists, musicians and other artists and artisans are on the rise.