Indian People's Theatre Association
IPTA, short for Indian People's Theatre Association, is a national organization with various names in different regions of India, such as Bhartiya Jan Natya Sangh in the Hindi belt, Bhartiya Gana Natya Sangh (Gana Sanskriti Sangh) in Assam and West Bengal, and Praja Natya Mandali in Andhra Pradesh. Its mission statement is "People's Theatre Stars the People," and its symbol/logo is a drummer (nagara vadak) designed by the famous painter Chitta Prasad, which symbolizes one of the oldest forms of communication.
IPTA was established on May 25, 1943, in Bombay (now Mumbai) and is closely related to the people's cultural and independence and anti-fascist movements in the country. The organization was formed after several progressive cultural troupes, theatre groups, and activists came together spontaneously to establish it. It was suggested by the renowned scientist Homi Jahangir Bhabha and named "People's Theatre," inspired by Romain Rolland's book on the concept of People's Theatre.
IPTA's history dates back to the establishment of the Youth Cultural Institute in Calcutta in 1940, the first Progressive Writer's Association Conference in 1936, and the setting up of People's Theatre in Bangalore by Anil De' Silva of Sri Lanka in 1941. The man-made famine of Bengal in 1942 inspired several progressive writers and artists, including Binoy Roy, who organized the Bengal Cultural Squad to collect money and sensitize people about the famine's impact. The Squad traveled the country, presenting their choir "Bhookha Hai Bengal" created by Vamik Jaunpuri, songs, and plays, motivating the formation of several cultural groups, including the Agra Cultural Squad.
The first national conference of IPTA was held on May 25, 1943, at the Marwari School in Bombay, attended by creative artists from across India. Professor Hiren Mukherjee gave a call to dedicate themselves to building a new world of freedom and social justice. The first National Committee included Trade Union Leader N.M. Joshi as the President, Anil De' Silva as the General Secretary, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas as the Treasurer, and Binoy Roy and K.D. Chandi as Joint Secretaries. Leading progressive artists from various regions of India and representatives of mass organizations comprised the national and regional committees.
IPTA held its second and third conferences in Bombay in 1944 and 1945, respectively, followed by the fourth conference in Calcutta in 1946, fifth in Ahmedabad in 1948, sixth in Allahabad in 1949, and seventh in Bombay in 1953. During this period, many progressive thinkers took on organizational roles, including Anna Bhau Sathe, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Vallathol, Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Niranjan Sen, Dr. Raja Rao, Rajendra Raghuvanshi, M. Nagabhushanam, Balraj Sahani, and others.
The eighth National Conference held from December 23, 1957, to January 1, 1958, at Natraj Nagri - Ramleela Maidan, Delhi, was attended by over 1000 artists from all over India and was inaugurated by the then Vice President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. The National Committee included Sachin Sen Gupta (Calcutta) as the President, Vishnu Prasad Rava (Gauhati), Rajendra Raghuvanshi (Agra), and others.
The Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) is a cultural organization founded in 1943 in Mumbai, India. The organization was formed with the aim of using theatre as a medium to promote social and political awareness and to bring about social change. IPTA is known for its contribution to Indian theatre, particularly in promoting the use of local languages and dialects in theatre performances.
IPTA has played an important role in the development of Indian theatre, nurturing many well-known playwrights, actors, and directors. The organization has also been active in promoting cultural exchange programs with other countries, hosting theatre festivals, and organizing workshops and training programs for young artists.
IPTA's work has been recognized both nationally and internationally. The organization has received numerous awards and accolades for its contribution to Indian theatre and its efforts to promote social awareness and activism through the arts. Today, IPTA continues to be a prominent cultural organization in India, inspiring and nurturing the next generation of artists and promoting social and political change through theatre.