Gursharan Singh

Born in 1929 in Multan, now in Pakistan, Shri Gursharan Singh is an outstanding figure in Indian theatre today. He is the chief architect of a people’s theatre in Punjab, where he has worked both in town and village since 1958 to reinstate an art that speaks to people of their own concerns. In 1964, Shri Gursharan Singh founded the Amritsar Natak Kala Kendra, and for several years brought the world’s best drama to audiences in the city. He started taking his theatre to the Punjab countryside in 1969, and working with themes of wide social concern, was soon able to create a stable audience for theatre in the villages. Since the early 1970s, he has been performing in villages for over a hundred and fifty nights a year. At once the playwright, director, and actor in his plays, Shri Gursharan Singh has used theatre effectively for social change and civil rights. In his street plays since the early 1980s — a troubled time in Punjab — he has spoken out steadfastly in defence of dalits, women, the minorities, and human rights in general. He is the author of over a hundred plays, including Hit List, Ek Kursi, Ek Morcha, and Hawa Mein Latke Log, which voice the agony of the people in Punjab’s years of turmoil. To create an interface between politics, society, and the stage, Shri Gursharan Singh established the Lok Sabhayachar Manch in 1981, a front which now has a dozen theatre groups as its SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI FELLOWS 29 members. Among other honours, Shri Gursharan Singh received the Best Playwright Award of the Punjabi Academy, Ludhiana, in 1990, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993 and the Kalidas Samman conferred by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 2004. For his outstanding contribution to Indian theatre, Shri Gursharan Singh is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi.